Pinson v. DOJ, No. 12-1872, 2016 WL 3093368 (D.D.C. June 1, 2016) (Contreras, J.)

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Pinson v. DOJ, No. 12-1872, 2016 WL 3093368 (D.D.C. June 1, 2016) (Contreras, J.)

Re: Requests for records concerning ten cases litigated by several United States Attorneys' Offices

Disposition: Granting in part and denying in part defendant's renewed motion for summary judgment

  • Procedural Requirements, Responding to FOIA Requests:  The court relates that "[it] previously held that there was a genuine issue of fact regarding whether [plaintiff] received the records associated with [one request], and the Court ordered DOJ to resend them to [plaintiff] and his Counsel."  The court notes that "DOJ now represents that it has resent the responsive documents to both [plaintiff] and his counsel" and "[plaintiff] has not contested that the documents were resent to him or argued that he has not received them."  However, "the Court is nevertheless unable to grant summary judgment to DOJ with respect to this request because, beyond asserting that the documents have been resent to [plaintiff], DOJ has not gone further to argue for a basis upon which summary judgment might be granted."

    Similarly, "the Court declines to grant summary judgment to DOJ at this time with respect to [another request]" because "nothing in the record indicates that a response was ever sent to [plaintiff]."
  • Litigation Considerations, Vaughn Index/Declaration:  The court denies defendant's motion for summary judgment regarding other requests because despite arguing that it "properly refused to conduct a search for documents," "although there is nothing in the record indicating that a search was conducted (or describing any search), [defendant's] Declaration expressly states that 100 pages of public records were released and that an additional 705 pages were located."  "This admission indicates that some type of search obviously was conducted."  Additionally, defendant's "declarations are not nearly sufficient to properly detail the searches conducted" and "to the extent DOJ seeks to invoke FOIA Exemptions 6, 7(A), or 7(C) on the basis that [plaintiff] sought records relating to cases involving third parties, [plaintiff's] joint appeal of these requests explicitly clarifies that he sought public records" and "DOJ further claims that the EOUSA made a full disclosure of responsive records for [one request] following that appeal."
  • Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Search:  The court "grant[s] summary judgment in DOJ's favor [regarding three requests]."  The court finds that "[t]he declarations' descriptions suffice to provide a 'reasonably detailed' account of the scope of the EOUSA's search for each request."  "The declarations describe to whom the request was forwarded, which specific databases were searched, how those databases store information, how that information is searchable, and, where appropriate, the declarations identify the specific search terms used to locate documents with respect to each of [plaintiff's] requests."  Similarly, regarding another two requests, "[b]ecause [plaintiff] did not seek to obtain more than 100 pages of responsive documents, does not claim that the pages the EOUSA did release are unresponsive to his request, and does not challenge the adequacy of the EOUSA's search resulting in those 100 pages, the Court concludes that the EOUSA's search was adequate for purposes of the present motion for summary judgment."  Likewise, regarding one other requests where "[plaintiff] explicitly limited [the] request to 'no more than 2 hours search time and 100 pages of information per case,'" "because [plaintiff] received more than double the number of pages to which he was entitled pursuant to his request and . . . does not claim that the released pages were unresponsive to his request, DOJ has properly fulfilled his request, and the Court will grant summary judgment with respect to [this request]."
Adequacy of Search
District Court
Litigation Considerations
Vaughn Index
Updated September 16, 2016