Williams v. FBI, No. 13-00056, 2014 WL 1320262 (D. Utah Mar. 31, 2014) (Nuffer, J.)

Date: 
Monday, March 31, 2014

Williams v. FBI, No. 13-00056, 2014 WL 1320262 (D. Utah Mar. 31, 2014) (Nuffer, J.)

Re: Request for memorandum allegedly distributed in 1993 by then-new Director of FBI, Louis Freeh

Disposition: Granting defendant's motion for summary judgment; denying plaintiff's motion to compel additional searches

  • Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Search:  The court holds that "[t]he FBI has conducted a search reasonably calculated to recover the document that Williams requested."  The court relates that defendant's declarations "establish [defendant's] personal knowledge and supervisory role with respect to [plaintiff's] FOIA request; . . .  provide a detailed explanation of the FBI's file system; . . . discuss the manner in which the FBI searched that system, including the various search terms that it employed; . . .  discuss the searches it conducted outside of its electronic file system; and provide reasons that additional searches would be both burdensome and unlikely to recover the Freeh Memorandum."  The court finds that "the declarations carry the FBI's burden on summary judgment to show that the searches satisfied the agency's FOIA obligations."  The court rejects plaintiff's arguments that alternative searches should have been conducted.  The court also finds that plaintiff's "allegations are not sufficient to rebut the presumption that the FBI's declarations were submitted in good faith," explaining "[t]hat the FBI has acted in bad faith in the past does not defeat the presumption of good faith in all subsequent cases."  The court also rejects plaintiff's argument that "the FBI's declarations include hearsay evidence that is not admissible" and explains that "'FOIA declarants may include statements in their declarations based on information they have obtained in the course of their official duties,' even where those statements include hearsay."
Topic: 
Adequacy of Search
District Court
Litigation Considerations
Updated August 22, 2014