Richardson v. U.S., No. 13-1203, 2015 WL 709118 (D.D.C. Feb. 19, 2015) (Huvelle, J.)

Date: 
Thursday, February 19, 2015

Richardson v. U.S., No. 13-1203, 2015 WL 709118 (D.D.C. Feb. 19, 2015) (Huvelle, J.)

Re: Request for records concerning plaintiff

Disposition: Granting in part and denying in part defendant's motion for summary judgment; denying plaintiff's motions for continuance, for discovery, and to amend complaint

  • Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Search:  "[T]he Court concludes that defendant has failed to establish that the agency conducted an adequate search."  The court finds that, "[a]lthough the adequacy of an agency's search is not generally judged by its results, the unexplained absence of responsive documents whose existence the agency does not deny goes beyond mere speculation and calls the reasonableness of the agency's search into question."  The court explains that "there is uncontroverted evidence that defendant released only a partial set of pictures."  "Defendant perhaps has an explanation for why it did not locate or release a complete set of pictures, but no such explanation has been provided to the Court."  "It did not file a reply, and neither its declarations nor the Vaughn index even mentions videotape pictures, much less describes how or where defendant found the pictures that it did release."
     
  • Exemption 5, Attorney Work-Product:  The court holds that "[p]laintiff does not challenge defendant's withholding of [the] records [withheld under Exemption 5], and the Court is satisfied by defendant's declarations and Vaughn index that these records have been properly withheld as attorney work product."  The court explains that, "[a]ccording to defendant, the withheld records are attorney work product because they were 'prepared by or at the request or direction of an attorney, and made in anticipation of, or during litigation' and consist of 'information related to trial preparation, trial strategy, interpretations, and personal evaluations and opinions pertinent to plaintiff's criminal case.'"
     
  • Exemption 7(C), Segregablity:  The court holds that "[p]laintiff does not challenge defendant's withholding of [the] records [at issue], and the Court is satisfied by defendant's declarations and Vaughn index that these records include information that has been properly withheld pursuant to Exemption 7(C)."  "The issue of segregability, though, poses a problem. Defendant makes no representation as to whether it considered segregability in terms of Exemption 7(C), and the descriptions of the documents lack the detail necessary for the Court to conduct its own segregability analysis."  "Accordingly, the Court will deny summary judgment to defendant on its claim."
Topic: 
Adequacy of Search
District Court
Exemption 5
Exemption 7C
Litigation Considerations
Segregability
Updated April 21, 2015