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Pinson v. DOJ, No. 12-1872, 2017 WL 1080907 (D.D.C. Mar. 22, 2017) (Contreras, J.)


Pinson v. DOJ, No. 12-1872, 2017 WL 1080907 (D.D.C. Mar. 22, 2017) (Contreras, J.)


Re: Request for correspondence generated after January 21, 2009 between the Attorney General, or staff within Attorney General's office, and Director of Federal Bureau of Prisons


Disposition: Granting defendants' motion for summary judgment

  • Exemption 7, Threshold: "[The] Court has previously considered the issue at length and determined that the [Special Administrative Measures ("SAMs")] memoranda meet this threshold requirement because they reflect BOP's efforts to deal with potential security risks to the public, inmates, and staff and are rationally related to BOP's law enforcement duties."
  • Exemption 7(E): "Given Exemption 7(E)'s 'relatively low bar,' . . . the Court agrees that the law enforcement techniques withheld here are covered under Exemption 7(E)." "The DOJ has provided specific details as to the types of techniques and procedures that would pose a risk of circumvention of the law and that surpass the 'conclusory and generalized allegations of exemptions,' . . . that this Court previously declined to accept." The court relates that "DOJ applied Exemption 7(E) to withhold a 'detailed description of the underlying offense conduct related to . . . terrorism charges . . . because '[i]nterspersed throughout the discussion . . . [i]s discussion of how law enforcement learned of the offense conduct and steps they took to further investigate the alleged illegal activity.'"
  • Exemption 7(C): "The Court . . . grants the BOP summary judgment as to its use of Exemption 7(C)." First, "[the] Court has previously held that the DOJ properly applied Exemption 7(C) to withhold the names of the [third party] individuals subject to the SAMs . . . and reaffirms that conclusion here." Second, the court finds that, "[b]ecause [plaintiff] does not allege illegal activity by the BOP, much less present compelling evidence of the same, the names of the co-defendants and third-parties are categorically exempt from disclosure." Also, "[g]iven that the individual's [sic] names are withheld, other information relating to those individuals implicates a privacy interest to the extent that it could be used to identify the individuals." Responding to plaintiff's counter-argument, the court finds that "'individuals are not precluded from retaining a privacy interest merely on the basis of their public prosecutions.'"
  • Litigation Considerations, "Reasonably Segregable" Requirements: "The Court . . . finds that the DOJ has met its burden of releasing all reasonably segregable portions." The court finds that "DOJ has provided [plaintiff] with a comprehensive declaration, describing each withholding and the exemption justifying that withholding." "[Defendant's declarant] attests to having personally reviewed the official files and released all non-exempt information that could be segregated." "The detailed declaration of [defendant's declarant] is sufficient to fulfill the agency's obligation to show with 'reasonable specificity' why a document cannot be further segregated."
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Exemption 7
Exemption 7(C)
Exemption 7(E)
Exemption 7, Threshold
Litigation Considerations, “Reasonably Segregable” Requirements
Updated December 13, 2021