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Smith v. ATF, No. 13-13079, 2014 WL 3565634 (E.D. Mich. July 18, 2014) (Goldsmith, J.)


Smith v. ATF, No. 13-13079, 2014 WL 3565634 (E.D. Mich. July 18, 2014) (Goldsmith, J.)

Re: Request for firearms trace records pertaining to firearm involved in plaintiff's criminal conviction

Disposition: Adopting Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation; granting defendant's motion for summary judgment

  • Exemption 3:  The court holds that defendant properly invoked Exemption 3.  The court finds that the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008 "meets both of [the] requirements [of Exemption 3], so ATF's determination that the Act satisfies Exemption 3 of the FOIA is reasonable and consistent with applicable law."  The court explains that "[t]he statutory provision that ATF claims satisfies Exemption 3 is the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008 . . . , which in pertinent part states that 'no funds appropriated under this or any other Act may be used to disclose part or all of the contents of the Firearms Trace System database maintained by the National Trace Center of [ATF].'"  "[T]he Act leaves no discretion as pertains to agency disclosure of records from the Firearms Trace System, and it therefore satisfies Exemption 3 through subsection (A)(i)."  The court also finds that the Act satisfies subsection (A)(ii) of Exemption 3, noting that "the Act [prohibits] disclosure of any records from ATF's Firearms Trace System, which certainly qualifies as particular criteria for withholding and particular types of matters to be withheld."  The court also finds that "[plaintiff's] underlying criminal prosecution and conviction has no relevance to his FOIA request."
  • Litigation Considerations, In Camera Inspection:  The court holds that "[i]n the present case, there is already a sufficient procedure to review ATF's determination, and [plaintiff] has provided neither evidence nor arguments indicating bad faith."  "Therefore, granting [plaintiff's] request for in camera review of the trace records would be improper and counter to judicial economy."
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Exemption 3
Litigation Considerations, In Camera Inspection
Updated February 2, 2022