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Judicial Watch, Inc. v. HUD, No. 12-1785, 2014 WL 788353 (D.D.C. Feb. 28, 2014) (Huvelle, J.)
February 28, 2014 Posted by

Re: Request for records concerning communications with city about its petition for certiorari

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

  • Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Search:  The court “concludes that defendant’s search for responsive documents was adequate.”  The court explains that “the government is afforded a presumption of good faith when it provides a ‘reasonably detailed affidavit, setting forth the search terms and the type of search performed, and averring that all files likely to contain responsive materials . . . were searched.’”  The court concludes that defendant has done so here and that “plaintiff has failed to present sufficient evidence to overcome this presumption.”
  • Litigation Considerations, Vaughn Index:  The court is “satisfied that the narrative justifications in the Vaughn index are sufficient to justify redacting and withholding documents under FOIA Exemption 5.”  The court finds that “plaintiff fails to direct this Court to any legal authority that defendant is required to identify the relevant privilege, by name, in order to withhold or redact a document pursuant to Exemption 5.”  The court also finds that “[a] defendant is not required, as plaintiff argues, to identify a specific case to which a document relates in order to invoke the work product privilege.”  The court additionally finds that defendant “provides a sufficient basis for plaintiff and the Court to assess whether an attorney-client relationship existed and whether the content of the communications was confidential” by “specifically identify[ing] the author and recipient(s) of each communication,” specifically identifying “the contents of the document,” and “explicitly identify[ing] which communications were specifically ‘among attorneys’ and which were not.”  Finally, the court finds that, when invoking the deliberative process privilege, “‘[t]he agency need not identify a specific final agency decision.’”
  • Litigation Considerations, “Reasonably Segregable” Requirements:  The court rejects plaintiff’s argument that defendant’s statement concerning segregability is “insufficient because ‘it does not indicate which records were subject to such analysis’” and finds that defendant’s statement “clearly refers to ‘all reasonably segregable‘ material and absent evidence to the contrary, the Court must accept this government representative at her word.”
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