Gatore v. DHS, No. 15-459, 2018 WL 294527 (D.D.C. Jan. 4, 2018) (Walton, J.)
Re: Requests for "'assessments to refer'" prepared by asylum officers in connection with individual plaintiffs' asylum applications
Disposition: Concluding that in camera inspection is necessary to resolve defendant's renewed motion for summary judgment
- Litigation Considerations, "Reasonably Segregable" Requirements & Litigation Considerations, In Camera Inspection: "[T]he Court concludes that [defendant's] supplemental . . . declarations preclude it from making a de novo determination as to whether the defendant has fulfilled its obligation to disclose all reasonably segregable material in the plaintiffs' assessments." The court relates that "the parties do not appear to dispute that at least some portion of each assessment is protected from disclosure pursuant to the deliberative process privilege of Exemption 5." "[A]lthough the Court is satisfied that the defendant has reviewed each assessment individually in this case, . . . and the defendant has now released to the plaintiffs certain 'biographical' information contained in each assessment, . . . the Court concludes for several reasons that the supplemental declarations again preclude it from making a de novo determination as to whether the defendant has fulfilled its obligation to disclose all reasonably segregable material." The court finds that "[t]he supplemental . . . declarations fail to adequately explain why the defendant has not disclosed [certain] factual paragraphs that [other] courts determined could be released." "Specifically, they lack sufficient detail to allow the Court to determine whether the assessments at issue here even contain such additional factual paragraphs, and if so, whether the defendant is correct that those paragraphs are protected by the deliberative process privilege." Additionally, the court finds that "the declarations do not explain why the defendant has disclosed certain types of factual information from some assessments but not from others."
"In light of the fact that the defendant has now submitted three additional declarations from [defendant], all to no ultimate avail, the Court concludes that in camera review is necessary." "Further, given the small number of documents at issue and the resources already expended by the parties and the Court after two rounds of summary judgment briefing, the Court finds that in camera review is the most efficient means of resolving the issue of segregability."