Sennett v. DOJ, No. 12-495, 2014 WL 1689298 (D.D.C. Apr. 30, 2014) (Boasberg, J.)

Date: 
Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Sennett v. DOJ, No. 12-495, 2014 WL 1689298 (D.D.C. Apr. 30, 2014) (Boasberg, J.)

Re: Request for records concerning plaintiff

Disposition: Granting plaintiff's motion for summary judgment; denying defendant's motion for summary judgment

  • Exemption 7(D):  The court holds that defendant's declaration "has failed to provide the Court with the information necessary to support Defendant's Exemption 7(D) claim, so the Court must find in favor of Plaintiff."  The court finds that defendant "has not shown that, under the circumstances here, its sources would have inferred that their communications with the Bureau would remain confidential."  The court also finds that "even assuming the Court were to find that the character of the crime supported such an inference, Plaintiff would still succeed, as the other Roth factors—most importantly, the source's relation to the crime and whether the source has an ongoing relationship with the agency—clearly tip in favor of releasing the contested records."  The court explains that the sources at issue "had done nothing more than attend one planning meeting for a protest some time prior to 2008, and the redacted description of the confidential information, which the Court has reviewed in camera, is fairly generic."  Moreover, defendant's "[d]eclaration does not explain how the informant's connection to some individuals involved in extremist activities in the District necessarily means that he or she had any connection to these particular people perpetrating this particular crime, as opposed to other 'extremists' who pursue some other ideology or agenda in the nation's capital."  As to the Roth factor regarding the existence of an ongoing relationship, the court finds that "[n]othing in the record, however, supports the claim that either source has provided any information to the FBI since they helped the Bureau identify the perpetrators of the 2008 Four Seasons vandalism."  Additionally, "it is not the FBI's expectations, but rather those of the informants, that matters," and "the agency's desire to obtain information from the informants in the future says nothing about whether the informants expect or intend to provide it."  Finally, the court finds that "[a]s to the final two Roth factors—namely, payment of the source and her typical manner of communication with the agency—the government offers neither any information about payment nor any particulars to show that such contacts were or are ever conducted in a surreptitious manner."
Topic: 
District Court
Exemption 7D
Updated October 6, 2014