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Sheffield v. Holder, No. 12-1008, 2013 WL 3216059 (D.D.C. June 27, 2013) (Berman Jackson, J.)
June 27, 2013 Posted by

Re: First party request for records concerning plaintiff’s arrest and prosecution

Disposition: Granting defendant’s motion for summary judgment

  • Adequacy of search:  The Court concludes that EOUSA conducted an adequate and reasonable search for responsive records.  Noting that the “‘adequacy of a FOIA search is generally determined not by the fruits of the search, but by the appropriateness of the methods used to carry out the search,’” the Court rejects plaintiff’s contention that the EOUSA’s search was unreasonable because none of the records mentioned a key witness.  “Neither the plaintiff’s speculation as to the existence of records nor the EOUSA’s inability to locate records mentioning [the key witness] renders the search inadequate.”
  • Allegations of Bad Faith: The Court rejects plaintiff’s argument that all of EOUSA’s declarations must be stricken because the first declaration contained an error that was later corrected.  Initially EOUSA stated that plaintiff had not responded to a letter requesting that plaintiff commit to paying fees or reformulate his request.  After further review, EOUSA corrected the declaration to acknowledge that plaintiff had reformulated his request.  The Court opines that “[i]t is hardly a sign of bad faith to acknowledge an error, particularly where, as here, the defendant promptly takes steps to correct the error.”
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