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Hillier v. DHS, No. 16-1836, 2019 WL 4730766 (D.D.C. Sept. 27, 2019) (Friedrich, J.)


Hillier v. DHS, No. 16-1836, 2019 WL 4730766 (D.D.C. Sept. 27, 2019) (Friedrich, J.)

Re:  Request for records concerning "'involuntary outpatient treatment'" that "'seemed to have Federal cooperation'"

Disposition:  Granting defendant's renewed motion for summary judgment; denying plaintiff's motion for discovery; denying plaintiff's motion to take judicial notice

  • Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Search:  The court holds that [t]he search was reasonable because [defendant's] declarations clarify that the Office of Intelligence and Analysis's search of [one database] covered the suspicious activity reports of that office and all other DHS components."  Additionally, the court finds that while "[plaintiff] questions the good faith of the DHS declarants, . . . government affidavits are entitled to 'substantial weight,' and their sufficiency 'is not undermined by a mere allegation of agency misrepresentation or bad faith.'"  The court finds that "[i]t is well established that 'delays in responding to a FOIA request are rarely, if ever, grounds for discrediting later affidavits by the agency.'"
  • Litigation Considerations, Discovery:  "[T]he Court rejects [plaintiff's] request for discovery on the 'timing and causes' of [one agency employee's] reassignment from his former role and the 'motives and circumstances' of the recent decision to transfer oversight of the NSI Shared Space database from DHS to the FBI."  The court explains that "[d]iscovery in FOIA cases is 'rare,' . . . and [plaintiff] fails to demonstrate how the discovery he seeks would support his speculative claims."
  • Litigation Considerations, In Camera Inspection:  "Because the government has provided detailed affidavits that demonstrate the adequacy of its search and [plaintiff] has not overcome the government's presumption of good faith, the Court declines to conduct an in camera review."  The court also notes that "[a]s a threshold matter, it is unclear which records [plaintiff] seeks to examine in camera given that DHS found no responsive records in DHS/ALL-031."
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Search
Litigation Considerations, Discovery
Litigation Considerations, In Camera Inspection
Updated December 16, 2021