King v. DOJ, No. 15-1445, 2018 WL 4567134 (D.D.C. Sept. 23, 2018) (Moss, J.)

Date: 
Sunday, September 23, 2018

King v. DOJ, No. 15-1445, 2018 WL 4567134 (D.D.C. Sept. 23, 2018) (Moss, J.)

Re:  Request for records related to requester's criminal prosecution

Disposition:  Denying defendant's motion for summary judgement

  • Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Search:  "The [c]ourt has reviewed the Department's renewed motion for summary judgment, supporting declaration, and Vaughn index and concludes that the Department has failed to meet its burden on demonstrating that 'it made a good faith effort to conduct a search for the requested records, using methods which can be reasonably expected to produce the information requested.'"  The court finds that, "[the] description of the relevant searches is inadequate for several reasons."  "First, and most broadly, the description offers little more than boilerplate that could be used in virtually any case in which a FOIA requester seeks records from one or more United States Attorneys' Offices."  "The reader is left to infer which offices received the requests, and the declaration fails to identify who oversaw the search or which files . . . were searched."  "Likewise, the declaration asserts that a 'systematic' search was conducted 'on each given subject,' but does not indicate what 'subjects' those charged with responding believed were implicated."  "In a similar vein, the declaration asserts that the 'FOIA Contacts' forwarded the FOIA requests to 'the appropriate staff to ascertain whether they had any responsive records,' but leaves it for the FOIA requester and the [c]ourt to guess which particular staff members actually received the request."  "And, perhaps most strikingly, the declaration never attests that 'the appropriate staff' actually searched their files and email for responsive records.  The court holds that, "[b]ecause the Department's submissions lack sufficient detail to permit the [c]ourt to determine whether EOUSA's searches were adequate and whether it has lawfully withheld all of the records it has located to date, the [c]ourt must deny the Department's renewed motion for summary judgment."
     
Topic: 
Adequacy of Search
District Court
Litigation Considerations
Updated January 31, 2019