Smith v. EOUSA, No. 13-1088, 2014 WL 4783256 (D.D.C. Sept. 25, 2014) (Leon, J.)

Date: 
Thursday, September 25, 2014

Smith v. EOUSA, No. 13-1088, 2014 WL 4783256 (D.D.C. Sept. 25, 2014) (Leon, J.)

Re: Request for records concerning plaintiff

Disposition: Granting defendant's partial motion for summary judgment

  • Procedural Requirements, Searching for Responsive Records:  The court holds that "[a]t most, plaintiff speculates that the EOUSA possesses such records, but mere speculation as to the existence of responsive records does not undermine the EOUSA's showing."  "Plaintiff raises no objection to the scope or method of the EOUSA's search, and based on the declarant's description of the search, the Court concludes that the search was reasonably calculated to locate records."
     
  • Procedural Requirements, Consultations and Referrals:  "The Court concludes that the EOUSA's decision to refer records to the DEA was appropriate, and that the referral neither significantly impaired plaintiff's ability to retain records nor significantly increased the length of time plaintiff awaited a response to his request."  The court relates that "EOUSA referred four pages of records to the DEA . . . and the DEA responded to plaintiff on September 12, 2011."
     
  • Exemption 5, Attorney Work-Product Privilege:  "The Court concludes that the EOUSA properly withheld the document in full under Exemption 5 as attorney work product."  The court explains that "all the handwritten case citations and numbers on the page were made by an attorney" and, "[i]nsofar as the record was located in a criminal case file associated with plaintiff, it is reasonable to conclude that the notes were made in anticipation of or in connection with the prosecution of plaintiff s criminal case."
     
  • Exemption 7, Threshold:  The court holds that "[t]he declarant easily makes the requisite showing that the responsive DEA records are law enforcement records for purposes of Exemption 7."  The court notes that EOUSA "explains that the records responsive to plaintiff's FOIA requests 'were compiled during criminal law enforcement investigations of the plaintiff and several third-parties.'"
     
  • Exemption 7(C):  The court concludes that "[t]he DEA's decision to withhold . . . third-party information from the responsive records is proper."  The court finds that "'[[n]]ondisclosure of names or other information identifying individuals appearing in law enforcement records' is routinely upheld."  Additionally, "[t]he Court concurs" with defendant's statement that "[p]laintiff does not demonstrate, and the DEA does not identify, 'any . . . cognizable public interest' in disclosure of this third-party information."
     
  • Exemption 7(E):  "The Court concludes that the DEA properly withheld the G–DEP code under Exemption 7(E)."  The court notes that "'[t]he G–DEP is part of [the] DEA's internal system of identifying information and individuals in furtherance of [its] enforcement responsibilities' and the codes 'reflect procedures prescribed by the DEA Agents Manual.'"  The court also notes defendant's statement that "[i]n short, disclosure of a G–DEP code 'would . . . thwart the DEA's investigative and law enforcement efforts.'"
     
  • Litigation Considerations, "Reasonably Segregable" Requirements:  "Based on the declaration and the Court's review of the two redacted pages of records, the Court concludes that all reasonably segregable information has been released to plaintiff."  The court notes that DEA "avers that '[o]nly the names of DEA special agents, other law enforcement personnel and a G–DEP identifier were withheld.'"
     
Topic: 
District Court
Exemption 5
Exemption 7
Exemption 7C
Exemption 7E
Litigation Considerations
Procedural
Referral of Record
Search
Segregability
Updated January 29, 2015