Friday, December 14, 2018
Rodriguez v. FBI, No. 16-02465, 2018 WL 6591659 (D.D.C. Dec. 14, 2018) (Mehta, J.)
Re: Request for records concerning plaintiff's criminal case
Disposition: Granting defendants' motions for summary judgment
- Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Search: "[T]he court now finds the Criminal Division conducted an appropriate search for responsive information." "In sum, Plaintiff asked the Criminal Division for documents related to his case; the Criminal Division then asked its sub-components that did work on Plaintiff's prosecution, as identified by the face of the request and the prosecutor who worked on the case, to search for such documents." "Relatedly, the court is satisfied with the Criminal Division's explanation as to why it did not ask the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to search for responsive documents." "Plaintiff asked the Criminal Division for records 'in your office' pertaining to the capital aspect of his case." "Thus, on its face, the request does not reach the prosecuting U.S. Attorney's Office, as that office is not a section within the Criminal Division's 'office.'" "Plaintiff sent his request to the Criminal Division, so it was proper to limit its search to documents within its control." "Lastly, the Criminal Division has included in its present declaration a description of the search methodology and terms that were absent in the first declaration."
- Exemption 5, Deliberative Process Privilege & Attorney Work-Product: The court holds that "Defendants appropriately withheld all documents based on FOIA Exemption 5." The court explains that "[t]he very nature of Plaintiff's request implicates Exemption 5." "Plaintiff asked the Criminal Division to disclose records pertaining to the death penalty aspect of his prosecution." The court finds that "[n]early all the documents responsive to Plaintiff's FOIA request reflect the agency's decision-making and therefore easily fall under the deliberative process privilege." "Two documents . . . are not pre-decisional material, but rather post-decisional advice[.]" "Those documents are covered by the attorney work-product privilege because they were prepared by an . . . attorney in anticipation of Plaintiff's prosecution."
- Exemptions 6, 7(C), 7(D) & 7(F): The court holds that "Defendants also withhold portions of the responsive records based on FOIA Exemptions 6, 7(C), 7(D), and 7(F)." "The court finds these withholdings are justified based on the privacy and safety considerations of those named in the records." "Plaintiff has identified no public interest in the release of any of this information."
- Litigation Considerations, "Reasonable Segregable" Requirements: The court holds that "Defendants' declarations and supporting materials provide 'reasonable specificity' to show why they could not segregate any non-exempt portions of records." "The court finds that any non-exempt portions of the documents are 'inextricably intertwined with exempt portions.'"
Adequacy of Search
Updated February 8, 2019