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Graham v. FBI, No. 20-210, 2022 WL 424979 (D.D.C. Feb. 11, 2022) (Kollar-Kotelly, J.)

Date

Graham v. FBI, No. 20-210, 2022 WL 424979 (D.D.C. Feb. 11, 2022) (Kollar-Kotelly, J.) 

Re:  Request for records concerning plaintiff

Disposition:  Granting defendant's motion for summary judgment

  • Waiver and Discretionary Disclosure:  "With respect to plaintiff's original FOIA request, then, the Court finds that defendant is entitled to summary judgment based on the waiver provision in the irrefutably valid plea agreement."  "[P]laintiff has not identified a plausible 'harm to public-policy that enforcement [of his agreement] would cause.'"  "[Plaintiff] posits that the 'un-constitutional plea waiver condition within his plea agreement' is 'unconstitutionally preventing' him from obtaining evidence via FOIA or any other sources as the waiver is written, needed for any type of post-conviction relief."  "This vague assertion is undermined by the fact that plaintiff has identified no obstacles to obtaining 'material supporting an ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim,' which was the one claim he did not waive and that was considered extensively during post-conviction proceedings."  "Contrary to plaintiff's sweeping characterization, moreover, the waiver provision at issue does not preclude him from obtaining evidence from 'other sources' or information unrelated to the underlying criminal case."  "Further, plaintiff admits that he 'does not claim to be innocent,' and thus needing 'to discover potentially exculpatory information.'"  "In fact, the Court agrees that plaintiff 'has unambiguously and repeatedly admitted that he is guilty of the crime to which he pled guilty.'"

    "Considering the other side of the scale, plaintiff has not refuted the government's legitimate criminal justice interests favoring enforcement -- the most compelling being to protect (1) the child victims of the crimes for which plaintiff was charged and (2) the 'sensitive investigative techniques' used not only to secure plaintiff's conviction but also in ongoing criminal investigations of on-line child pornography."  "[Defendant] attests:  'The plea agreement entered into by Plaintiff and the government provided benefits to both parties - Plaintiff avoided a criminal trial and had three counts of the indictment dismissed in exchange for allowing the government to conclude Plaintiffs criminal proceedings and allocate resources to other criminal matters.  The plea agreement also spared Plaintiff's victims from having to relive their trauma and from having such sensitive and painful details made public through a trial.  Thus, the plea agreement brought finality to the case for all parties.'"  "Similarly, the lead Assistant U.S. Attorney in plaintiff's criminal case . . . attests to legitimate law enforcement interests in protecting child victims and legitimate prosecutorial interests in finality and resource conservation given that '[t]rials and post-conviction litigation use more governmental resources compared to resolving the case by plea agreement.'"

    "In response to plaintiff's narrowed request for federal search warrants only, defendant, 'putting aside the overriding' waiver issue, posits 'if the records Plaintiff seeks are limited to federal search warrants authorizing the surveillance of his internet usage during a specific time, then the FBI has no responsive records because the records Plaintiff requests do not exist.'"  The court notes that "it is undisputed that plaintiff's clarification merely carves out one category of records sought from the original request . . . ."  "Therefore, the Court finds that defendant has not 'abandoned' its original decision that fully supports summary judgment."
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Waiver and Discretionary Disclosure
Updated March 7, 2022