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Pichardo-Martinez v. USMS, No. 18-02674, 2020 WL 5946068 (D.D.C. Oct. 7, 2020) (McFadden, J.)


Pichardo-Martinez v. USMS, No. 18-02674, 2020 WL 5946068 (D.D.C. Oct. 7, 2020) (McFadden, J.)

Re:  Request for records concerning plaintiff, as well as concerning USMS contract with local sheriff office

Disposition:  Granting defendant's second renewed motion for summary judgment

  • Procedural Requirements, Searching for Responsive Records:  The court "concludes that the agency conducted reasonable searches for records responsive to [plaintiff's] two FOIA requests."  "Based on the information [plaintiff] provided, it is reasonable for USMS to have searched for responsive records in the two federal districts – the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the Northern District of Ohio – where he had been detained, and in databases containing information about assaults and medical care provided for prisoners in USMS custody."
  • Exemption 7, Threshold:  "The Court accepts [defendant's] representation that all the responsive records 'were compiled by the USMS, a law enforcement agency, in the course of Plaintiff's arrest and custody by the USMS.'"  "Thus, USMS shows that the responsive records were compiled for law enforcement purposes and that Exemption 7 applies."
  • Exemption 7(C):  The court relates that "[t]he D.C. Circuit has held 'categorically that, unless access to the names and addresses of private individuals appearing in files within the ambit of Exemption 7(C) is necessary in order to confirm or refute compelling evidence that the agency is engaged in illegal activity, such information is exempt from disclosure.'"  "Without a response from [plaintiff] and on review of USMS's supporting declaration and Vaughn Index, . . . the Court finds that USMS has properly withheld the names of and identifying information about third parties, including law enforcement personnel, appearing in the responsive records."
  • Exemption 7(E):  The court relates that "USMS withheld three Uniform Resource Locators (URLs):  the web addresses of (1) 'a Federal Judiciary electronic database' that gives access to case and docket information; (2) USMS's internal system containing information about prisoners' health care; and (3) a state corrections department's online database for locating inmates."  "It also withheld 'a requisition/purchaser/requester number and a facility code on an Intergovernmental Agreement.'"  The court holds that "USMS meets Exemption 7(E)'s 'relatively low bar,' because its declarant 'demonstrate[s] logically how the release of the requested information might create a risk of circumvention of the law.'"  "It is enough for the declarant to aver that release of the withheld information could enable unauthorized users to navigate databases and potentially 'counter operational and investigative actions taken by the USMS during enforcement operations.'"
  • Litigation Considerations, "Reasonably Segregable" Requirements:  The court relates that "USMS's declarant represents that 'no reasonably segregable non-exempt portions [of the responsive records] were withheld from Plaintiff.'"  "On review of the supporting declaration and Vaughn Index, the Court agrees that USMS has released all reasonably segregable information."
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Exemption 7
Exemption 7(C)
Exemption 7(E)
Litigation Considerations, “Reasonably Segregable” Requirements
Procedural Requirements, Searching for Responsive Records
Updated November 6, 2020