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Majuc v. DOJ, No. 18-00566, 2019 WL 4394843 (D.D.C. Sept. 13, 2019) (Mehta, J.)

Date

Majuc v. DOJ, No. 18-00566, 2019 WL 4394843 (D.D.C. Sept. 13, 2019) (Mehta, J.)

Re:  Request for records concerning company's evasion of Sundanese sanctions

Disposition:  Denying plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment; denying defendant's motion for summary judgment

  • Exemption 7(A):  First, "the court is left uncertain whether there is, at present, a pending investigation involving the responsive records."  "Defendant's declarant . . . states that the DOJ withheld the records under 7(A) because the records 'were created during the continuing case against [the company], as well as other active and ongoing criminal law enforcement investigations related to that matter' and 'any release of the documents and records . . . would be premature and likely to cause harm to both active and ongoing law enforcement proceedings.'"  "He provides additional facts in an ex parte and in camera declaration, * * *"  "The court cannot grant summary judgment when faced with such glaring ambiguity about 'whether a related investigation is in fact ongoing.'"  "Additionally, the DOJ argues that the criminal case against [the company] is itself still ongoing, even though the bank pleaded guilty in 2014."  "By 'ongoing' the DOJ means that [the company] is still subject to a five-year probation term, which began on May 15, 2015."  "But Defendant cites no case from the D.C. Circuit or any other appellate court holding that the mere pendency of post-conviction monitoring and compliance of a corporate defendant qualifies as a 'concrete prospective law enforcement proceeding.'"  "Moreover, at a minimum, the DOJ must show how disclosure of specific categories of documents could be reasonably expected to interfere with proceedings connected to [the company's] probationary status."  "This it is has failed to do."  "Second, it is not apparent to the court how there could be any ongoing criminal exposure for other persons or entities connected to [the company's] evasion of Sudanese sanctions."  "The default statute of limitations for federal non-capital offenses is typically five years from the last violation."  "It is now 12 years later."  "Finally, the factual recitation accompanying [the company's] plea agreement, . . . is detailed enough that it raises doubts about the DOJ's claim that disclosure would interfere with an ongoing investigation, if there is one."  "The investigation and prosecution of the bank has been public for a number of years, so the notion that a person or entity related to [the company's] sanctions violations might not know that he or she is, or will be subject to, an investigation seems dubious at best."  "Further, the factual proffer supporting [the company's] plea contains significant details about the time, manner, and means of the bank's violations."  "It quotes extensively from [the company's] internal emails and corporate records and highlights specific activities of [company] officials at the center of the scheme."  "The DOJ does not acknowledge these detailed disclosures, let alone evaluate how they might impact the asserted risks of premature disclosure."
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Exemption 7(A)
Updated December 17, 2021