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Giovanetti v. FBI, No. 13-1807, 2016 WL 1273177 (D.D.C. Mar. 31, 2016) (Walton, J.)


Giovanetti v. FBI, No. 13-1807, 2016 WL 1273177 (D.D.C. Mar. 31, 2016) (Walton, J.)

Re: Request for records concerning plaintiff

Disposition: Granting defendants' motion for summary judgment

  • Litigation Considerations:  The court holds that "the plaintiff's trustworthiness argument does not preclude the Court from awarding the FBI summary judgment."  The court finds that "[t]he plaintiff has not created a genuine factual dispute concerning the reasonableness of the FBI's search, nor has he produced any evidence of agency bad faith."
  • Exemptions 3, 7(D) & 7(E):  The court finds that "[plaintiff] has conceded the defendants' justifications for withholding information under FOIA exemptions 3, 7(D) and 7(E), . . . and the Court finds from its own examination of the defendants' evidence that those withholdings are properly justified."
  • Exemption 5, Deliberative Process Privilege & Attorney Work-Product Privilege:  "[T]he Court will grant summary judgment to the defendants on their withholding of documents under Exemption 5 based on both the deliberate process privilege and the attorney work-product privilege."  Regarding the deliberative process privilege, the court relates that "[t]he FBI withheld as deliberative process material 'drafts of documents prepared in the prosecution of plaintiff and others.'"  The court finds that "it is clear that the documents contain information reflecting the internal deliberations of the agency in preparing 'documents ultimately filed with the court.'"  Regarding the attorney work-product privilege, the court relates that "[t]he FBI withheld as attorney work product 'materials created by attorneys involved in the criminal case of one of plaintiff's co-conspirators.'"  The court notes that "[t]he plaintiff does not dispute the FBI's justification for withholding the foregoing records under the attorney work-product privilege."  "Rather, he argues that the defendants have not demonstrated 'that the document[s] [were] properly withheld in full.'" "But, where, as here, '"a document is fully protected as work product, . . . segregability [of that document] is not required."'"
  • Exemptions 6 & 7(C):  "[T]he Court will grant summary judgment to the defendants on their withholding of information under Exemption 7(C)."  First, the court finds that "[i]t is apparent from the plaintiff's FOIA request that the responsive records were compiled for law enforcement purposes, namely, his criminal prosecution."  "Accordingly, the Court will examine the defendants' asserted privacy interests under Exemption 7(C) only."  The court finds that "[i]t is well established that law enforcement personnel, witnesses, informants, and 'third parties who may be mentioned in investigatory files' have 'an obvious privacy interest cognizable under Exemption 7(C) in keeping secret the fact that they were subjects of a law enforcement investigation.'"  Additionally, the court finds that "the plaintiff has proffered no evidence to warrant an inquiry as to whether an overriding public interest compels the disclosure of the otherwise exempt third-party information."  Finally, the court notes that "plaintiff disputes the withholding of" documents which "'pertain[] solely to a third party individual' [and] also . . . contain[] no mention of the plaintiff."  The court finds that "not only are the[se] documents exempt, but they appear to be non-responsive to the plaintiff's request."
  • Litigation Considerations, "Reasonably Segregable" Requirements:  "[T]he Court concludes that the FBI has satisfied its segregability obligation under the FOIA."  The court finds that defendant "examined '[e]ach document . . . individually . . . to identify non-exempt information that could be reasonably segregated from exempt information for release, determined that some documents 'warranted further segregability,' and released . . . additional . . . pages to the plaintiff."  The court also finds that "plaintiff has not produced any evidence that calls into question 'the good-faith presumption afforded' [defendant's] representations."
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Exemption 3
Exemption 5
Exemption 5, Attorney Work-Product Privilege
Exemption 5, Deliberative Process Privilege
Exemption 6
Exemption 7(C)
Exemption 7(D)
Exemption 7(E)
Litigation Considerations, Supplemental to Main Categories
Litigation Considerations, “Reasonably Segregable” Requirements
Updated January 20, 2022