Rad v. USAO, No. 15-2415, 2016 WL 3749405 (D.N.J. July 13, 2016) (Thompson, J.)
Re: Request for records concerning plaintiff's criminal case
Disposition: Denying defendant's motion for summary judgment; denying plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction
- Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Search: The court holds that "[d]efendant details the thorough search it conducted to uncover documents responsive to Plaintiff’s FOIA requests, and Plaintiff does not challenge the adequacy of Defendant's search." "Based on Defendant's supporting declarations describing the search, it appears that the search was reasonably calculated to reveal all relevant documents, thus fulfilling one of FOIA's requirements."
- Litigation Considerations, Vaughn Index/Declaration: "[T]he Court must deny Defendant's motion for summary judgment without prejudice to a prompt renewal." The court finds that "[d]efendant's Vaughn index and supplemental Vaughn index are insufficiently detailed for the Court to be able to find that Defendant properly withheld certain information." "The indexes condense hundreds of documents into just a few broad categories, such that it is unclear which entry in the Vaughn index contains the specific information Plaintiff is seeking." "This problem is compounded by the lack of any records for the Court to personally examine." "This leaves the Court ill-equipped to evaluate the arguments Plaintiff raises in his opposition brief, which focus on specific facts and documents that are not directly addressed in Defendant's submissions." "Defendant's brief lays out the general legal arguments for each FOIA exemption very well, but fails to sufficiently apply the law to the present set of facts."
- Litigation Considerations, Preliminary Injunctions: "The Court is not persuaded by [plaintiff's] arguments." "In particular, Plaintiff relies heavily on the assertion that none of the FOIA exemptions apply to any of the records he is seeking." "Plaintiff's broadly-worded FOIA requests include grand jury records and third parties' private account information, both of which are very likely to be covered by FOIA exemptions." "Since it appears that at least some of the records Plaintiff is seeking were properly withheld by Defendant, Plaintiff cannot demonstrate that he is likely to fully succeed on the merits." "Plaintiff also cannot show irreparable injury is likely without an injunction, given that a primary purpose of a preliminary injunction is to maintain the status quo pending a decision on the merits." "Entering a preliminary injunction would dramatically change the status quo, effectively allowing Plaintiff to win his case without a decision on the merits, which is simply not warranted here."