Truthout v. DOJ, No. 12-2601, 2014 WL 1794449 (E.D. Cal May 6, 2014) (Karlton, J.)
Re: Request for records concerning brother of "'high-value detainee currently imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay'"
Disposition: Granting defendant's motion for summary judgment; denying plaintiff's motion for order striking ex parte declaration from record or alternatively directing that it be filed on public record
- Litigation Considerations, Vaughn Index / Declaration: The court holds that it "will deny [plaintiff's] motion to either strike [defendant's] declaration or order that it be publicly filed." The court finds that "[h]aving reviewed the unredacted [defendant] declaration, the court is satisfied that the government 'has submitted as much detail in the form of public affidavits and testimony as possible' in the form of the redacted [defendant] declaration." The court explains that "[n]ot only did the DOJ deny [plaintiff's] FOIA request herein, it also failed to furnish a Vaughn index with its denial." "The difficulty, however, is that the court cannot discern a way to require the DOJ to provide 'a particularized explanation of how disclosure of the particular document would damage the interest protected by the claimed exemption,' . . . without also forcing the agency to reveal the information contained in the withheld documents." The court notes that "[i]mporting the general standard for the sealing of records into FOIA litigation threatens to vitiate the exemptions that the statute sets forth." "In deciding whether a FOIA exemption applies, the court may be unable to 'articulate the factual basis for its ruling,' . . . without simultaneously revealing the information that the government seeks to withhold." The court notes that "this information falls within FOIA Exemption 7E."
- Exemption 7(E): The court holds that "the withheld documents meet the criteria outlined in FOIA Exemption 7E." The court finds that "[h]aving reviewed the unredacted [defendant] declaration, the court concludes that the DOJ has met its burden on summary judgment."