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Union Leader Corp. v. DHS, No. 13-1752, 2014 WL 1613681 (1st Cir. Apr. 18, 2014) (Howard, J.)


Union Leader Corp. v. DHS, No. 13-1752, 2014 WL 1613681 (1st Cir. Apr. 18, 2014) (Howard, J.)

Re: Request for names and addresses of six individuals arrested by ICE in New Hampshire in 2011

Disposition: Reversing in part and remanding district court's grant of defendant's motion for summary judgment

  • Exemption 7(C):  The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals "hold[s] that Exemption 7(C) is inapplicable in these circumstances."  The court first notes that "[o]n appeal, [plaintiff] only challenges ICE's redaction of the arrestees' names, and no longer seeks production of their addresses or any other personal information."  The court then turns to the privacy interest at issue and states that it "fully agree[s] with the district court's conclusion that disclosure would indeed implicate the arrestees' privacy interests; [the court's] quibble is only with the weight that the district court gave that interest in the Exemption 7(C) balancing."  The court finds that "although the arrestees have a cognizable privacy interest in their names, that interest is attenuated both by the status of their underlying convictions and arrests as matters of public record and by the limited nature of [plaintiff's] proposed investigation."  The court noted that "[plaintiff] has stated that it has no intention of contacting the individuals, and that it only seeks to review the public records of their prior arrests and convictions."  The court then turns to the public interest at issue and holds that the "district court gave inadequate weight to the public interest in disclosure."  The court notes that under Supreme Court precedent, to establish a cognizable public interest in disclosure involving government misconduct, plaintiff "'must produce evidence that would warrant a belief by a reasonable person that the alleged government impropriety might have occurred.'"  The court finds that "[d]isclosure of the redacted names will enable [plaintiff] to investigate public records pertaining to the arrestees' prior convictions and arrests, potentially bringing to light the reasons for ICE's apparent torpor in removing these aliens."  The court concludes that "[t]hat public interest outweighs the arrestees' attenuated privacy interests in their underlying arrests and convictions, which are already matters of public record."
Court Decision Topic(s)
Court of Appeals opinions
Exemption 7(C)
Updated October 6, 2014