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James Madison Project v. DOJ, No. 15-1307, 2017 WL 3172855 (D.D.C. July 25, 2017) (Collyer, J.)


James Madison Project v. DOJ, No. 15-1307, 2017 WL 3172855 (D.D.C. July 25, 2017) (Collyer, J.)

Re:  Request for records concerning book about account of mission that killed Osama bin Laden

Disposition:  Granting defendant's renewed motion for summary judgment

  • Litigation Considerations, Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies:  "[T]he Court finds that [plaintiff] failed to exhaust its administrative remedies with respect to the record referred to DoD by the Civil Division."  The court relates that "DoD responded to [plaintiff] regarding the referred record before [plaintiff] filed this action, and '[a]t that point, [[plaintiff]] was obligated to exhaust [its] administrative remedies.'"  The court notes that "[plaintiff] admits that it failed to do so[.]"
  • Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Search:  "Based upon DoD's three supporting declarations and the presumption of good faith afforded to them, the Court finds that DoD 'us[ed] methods which [could] be reasonably expected to produce the information requested,' and the search was, therefore, adequate."  The court relates that "the responsive files were readily identifiable without search terms and the records in all of the files were individually reviewed."  Responding to plaintiff's argument, the court finds that "[a]lthough a reasonable search of electronic records may necessitate the use of search terms in some cases, FOIA does not demand it in all cases involving electronic records."
  • Exemption 5, Deliberative Process Privilege, Attorney Work-Product Privilege & Attorney-Client Privilege:  The court relates that "DoD relies on Exemption 5 and the three cited privileges to withhold in their entirety all records responsive to [plaintiff's] . . . FOIA request."  The court notes that "[plaintiff] concedes the appropriateness of these withholdings."
  • Exemption 6:  The court notes that "[plaintiff] also concedes the applicability of Exemption 6[]" and, "[b]ecause this Court finds that all of the responsive records were properly withheld under Exemption 5, it need not reach this argument."
  • Litigation Considerations, "Reasonably Segregable" Requirements:  "[T]he Court finds that DoD has adequately explained that no portions of the records were segregable."
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Exemption 5
Exemption 5, Attorney-Client Privilege
Exemption 5, Attorney Work-Product Privilege
Exemption 5, Deliberative Process Privilege
Exemption 6
Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Search
Litigation Considerations, Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
Litigation Considerations, “Reasonably Segregable” Requirements
Updated December 14, 2021