Peeler v. DOJ, No. 13-1323, 2015 WL 418136 (D. Conn. Jan. 30, 2015) (Meyer, J.)

Friday, January 30, 2015

Peeler v. DOJ, No. 13-1323, 2015 WL 418136 (D. Conn. Jan. 30, 2015) (Meyer, J.)

Re: Request for certain telephone records

Disposition: Granting defendants' unopposed motion for summary judgment.

  • Procedural Requirements, Searching for Responsive Records:  The court holds that "defendants are entitled to summary judgment insofar as plaintiff challenges the adequacy of the FBI's search."  The court explains that, "[b]ecause plaintiff sought the records to challenge his conviction, the FBI's determination that any responsive records would be located in plaintiff's criminal file, and its subsequent decision to search only the CRS, were reasonable."
  • Exemptions 6 and 7(C):  The court holds that "summary judgment for defendants is appropriate on this ground."  The court first finds that "the records here were compiled during the FBI's criminal investigation of plaintiff."  The court then finds that "[f]ederal law enforcement personnel have a recognized privacy interest in their identities because of the work they perform."  "Revealing the identities of these persons could subject them to threat or harassment while they conduct their official duties and personal affairs."  Similarly, "individuals-administrative employees of the company that provided the telephone records to the FBI in response to an administrative subpoena . . . could be subjected to unofficial inquiries, harassment, and even physical harm."  Also, "[t]here is also a legitimate privacy interest in the names and identifying information of third parties who are mentioned in the records."  Finally, the court finds that "disclosing the identifying information for any of the four groups would not provide insight into the mission, operations, or activities of the FBI."

Additionally, the court "conclude[s] that the FBI's decision not to disclose the existence or nonexistence of responsive records without additional documentation was a reasonable response to the second FOIA request."   The court relates that defendant "states that releasing records concerning a third party without additional documentation to overcome privacy concerns would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy under exemptions 6 and 7(C)."

District Court
Exemption 6
Exemption 7
Exemption 7C
Updated April 21, 2015