Stein v. SEC, No. 15-1560, 2019 WL 689753 (D.D.C. Feb. 2, 2019) (Bates, J.)
Re: Request for records concerning civil enforcement action against plaintiff and his co-defendant
Disposition: Granting defendant's renewed motion for summary judgment; denying plaintiff's renewed motion for summary judgment
- Exemption 7(A): "The Court finds that the privilege log documents may properly be withheld under Exemption 7(A)." The court explains that "[b]ecause the potential for interference remains even when a case is on appeal, the SEC is permitted to withhold law enforcement records 'until all reasonably foreseeable proceedings stemming from that investigation are closed.'" "It is also undisputed that the criminal proceeding against [plaintiff] before the Eleventh Circuit remains ongoing."
- Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Search: "The Court finds that the SEC conducted an adequate search of [another category of] materials." The court holds that "SEC easily meets [its] burden." "In two declarations, the SEC set forth the undisputedly relevant search terms and the detailed steps the agency took to search the . . . materials . . . ." The court also addresses plaintiff's "argument . . . that in some cases or situations a scan might not pick up every responsive document[,]" and finds that "[plaintiff] offers nothing specific, and here the agency's digital queries returned responsive records that it subsequently produced." "[Plaintiff] cannot undermine the agency's otherwise reasonable and presumptively good faith search with such 'purely speculative claims about the existence and discoverability of other documents.'"