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Prop. of the People, Inc. v. DOJ, No. 17-1193, 2022 WL 1154680 (D.D.C. Apr. 19, 2022) (Boasberg, J.)


Prop. of the People, Inc. v. DOJ, No. 17-1193, 2022 WL 1154680 (D.D.C. Apr. 19, 2022) (Boasberg, J.)

Re:  Request for records concerning pre-presidential activities of Donald Trump

Disposition:  Granting defendant’s motion for summary judgment

  • Litigation Considerations, "Reasonably Segregable Requirements":  "[T]he Court finds that there is no meaningful information that could be segregated and released and so grants summary judgment for Defendant."  "[Defendant] asserts that it cannot segregate any of the material in the hundreds of records contained within these two informant files."  "[T]he Vaughn Index indicates which exemptions apply to each document overall, but the declarations do not describe what proportion of information is not exempt, leaving the Court unable to determine how much non-exempt information the two files actually contain.  Instead, the [defendant] simply claims that 'the most . . . [it] could segregate from the records at issue would be headings of standard forms, which are not substantive and would not reveal anything of use to Plaintiff about the responsive records.'"  "As a result, the Court determined that in camera review was appropriate."  "Having reviewed [a] representative sample of documents, the Court agrees with defendant that any non-exempt information in the two files is either 'inextricably intertwined with exempt portions' or would require a significant expenditure of resources for the release of only words or phrases that provide little or no information." 

    "Plaintiffs correctly observe, however, that there is also some information that is non-exempt and 'make[s] sense standing alone' without threatening any exemptions."  "[T]he Court understands that it does not decide whether segregable, non-exempt information contained in a record is helpful to the requester or not."  However, the court notes that it "can 'decline to order an agency to commit significant time and resources to the separation of disjointed words, phrases, or even sentences' with 'minimal or no information content.'"  "The Court finds that to release the non-exempt information that makes sense standing alone would result in negligible, if any, meaningful information going to Plaintiffs, yet it would require a considerable expenditure of government resources.  The balancing does not favor Plaintiffs.  The Court thus [agrees] that these records cannot be further segregated and will not require the release of any additional information."  
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Litigation Considerations, “Reasonably Segregable” Requirements
Updated May 18, 2022