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Whitney v. DOJ, No. 17-281, 2018 WL 575849 (E.D. Ark. Jan. 26, 2018) (Marshall, Jr., J.)


Whitney v. DOJ, No. 17-281, 2018 WL 575849 (E.D. Ark. Jan. 26, 2018) (Marshall, Jr., J.)

Re:  Request for records concerning list of certain non-federal case numbers

Disposition:  Granting defendant's motion for summary judgment; denying plaintiff's motion for summary judgment

  • Litigation Considerations, Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies:  The court rejects defendant's "argu[ment] that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction because [plaintiff] failed to properly exhaust his administrative remedies[]" because "[the] Court is not convinced that exhaustion is a jurisdictional prerequisite in FOIA cases."
  • Procedural Requirements, Proper FOIA Requests:  The court also rejects defendant's "argu[ment] in the alternative that [plaintiff's] complaint must be dismissed because he failed to submit a proper FOIA request[,] . . . because he failed to provide a notarized example of his signature or a completed Certification of Identity form."  The court holds that "[plaintiff] is right[]" because "the governing regulation allows for verification by declaration made under penalty of perjury; and it specifically states that no particular form is required."

    However, the court does agree with defendant that plaintiff did not "describe the records he sought 'in enough detail to enable Department personnel to locate the system of records containing them with a reasonable amount of effort.'"  The court relates that "[plaintiff's] request didn't identify which United States Attorney's office or offices he believed had the requested records."  "He gave a list of case numbers, which is in the margin."  "This list has a lot of information, but the numbers don't appear to be federal case numbers, and the list doesn't identify the districts where the cases were handled."
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Litigation Considerations, Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
Procedural Requirements, Proper FOIA Requests
Updated December 2, 2021