Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Tereshchuk v. BOP, No. 09-1911, 2014 WL 4637028 (D.D.C. Sept. 16, 2014) (Lamberth, J.)
Re: Request for all BOP administrative remedies and responses after 2000
Disposition: Granting defendant's motion for summary judgment
- Exemption 6: The court notes that "BOP redacted inmate names and register numbers pursuant to its own regulations forbidding disclosure of inmate names and register numbers" and finds that "[s]uch redactions are appropriate under FOIA Exemption 6." The court explains that "[b]ecause [plaintiff] has not provided any evidence of misconduct—or really even alleged any specific kind of misconduct other than potential favoritism—there is little public interest in the release of this personal information." "Inmates' privacy interest in withholding their personal information easily outweighs the lack of public interest, and as such, the BOP was correct to redact identifying information."
- Procedural Considerations, Proper FOIA Request: The court relates that "[t]he BOP provided [certain] indexes as they are maintained by the agency, with only prisoners [sic] names and identifying numbers redacted, as required by BOP regulations as well as FOIA Exception 6." The court holds that "[plaintiff] got all parts of the indexes to which he has a legal right, and he has no right to require defendant to create a new index."
- Litigation Considerations, Relief: The court holds that, contrary to plaintiff's assertions, "[Administrative Procedures Act] review is not available for FOIA claims because FOIA provides an adequate remedy." Additionally, "the court finds that "'[t]o the extent that plaintiff's complaint . . . may be read as seeking relief from any defendant for an alleged violation of constitutional rights for failure to comply with the FOIA . . . it fails.'"
- Litigation Considerations, Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies: The court finds that "BOP regulation 28 C.F.R. § 542.19 requires that responses sought 'must be identified by Remedy ID number as indicated on an index.'" "This regulation directly applies to [plaintiff]. Nonetheless, [plaintiff] has failed to identify the records he seeks by number." "Instead of identifying the responses sought by number, [plaintiff] requested 'all' administrative remedy responses." "As such, he has failed to comply with the agency's procedures and his claim will be dismissed."
- Procedural Considerations, Searching for Responsive Records: The court holds that "[o]n the record before the Court, the BOP has not proven that [plaintiff's] production request was overly burdensome." The court explains that "BOP has not shown the extent to which this would burden the agency and whether such a burden is unusual." "FOIA requests are frequently time-consuming and indeed it is not unusual for a search pursuant to FOIA to last over a year." "Although there are many responses, it appears that they are already compiled (albeit in different locations) and consist of approximately 24,840 pages." The court finds that "[t]he severity of the burden is thus unclear."
- Proactive Disclosures: "Because there is no evidence that [certain] administrative responses constitute the working law of the BOP and they are not 'adjudications' within Section (a)(2), this Court grants the BOP's motion for summary judgment on the issue of reading room records."
Updated January 29, 2015