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Davis v. DOJ, No. 12-1076, 2013 WL 5273913 (D.D.C. Sept. 19, 2013) (Walton, J.)
September 19, 2013 Posted by

Re: First party request for records concerning plaintiff’s criminal case

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.  “The EOUSA’s declarant explains in reasonable detail the scope, methods, and results of the search.”  “Based upon the information provided by the plaintiff in his FOIA request, the EOUSA forwarded the request to USAO/TENN, the district in which the plaintiff was prosecuted.”  EOUSA’s declaration “describes the FOIA Contact’s efforts to locate responsive records by searching case files, sending emails to other personnel who may have responsive records, and by querying the case tracking database.”  The court also notes that “[t]he plaintiff’s level of satisfaction with the results of the EOUSA’s search is not dispositive,” and cites to case law asserting that “‘[T]he 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 notes that “[e]ven though the EOUSA has located a document which refers to additional materials of interest to the plaintiff, neither the EOUSA nor the FBI is obligated to search for them.” “Nor does the FOIA require an agency to retrieve documents which previously may have been its possession.” 

    Additionally, “in this case, the FBI is not obligated to conduct a search at all.”  “The plaintiff submitted his FOIA request to the EOUSA, and the FBI’s obligation is limited to the processing of the documents referred to it by EOUSA.”
  • Exemption 3: The court also finds that certain grand jury materials were properly withheld pursuant to Exemption 3 and Rule 6 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.  “Based on the declarant’s showing that release of certain information would reveal the scope of the grand jury and the direction of its investigation, and absent any showing by the plaintiff to the contrary, the Court concludes that the withholding of grand jury material is appropriate.”  “The plaintiff’s belief that certain information should have been disclosed during his criminal case does not translate into an obligation on the part of EOUSA to release information that otherwise is protected under a FOIA exemption.”
  • Segregability: “Based on the Court’s review of the supporting declaration and copies of the three redacted pages released by the EOUSA . . . the Court finds that the defendant has demonstrated that it released all reasonably segregable portions of the records responsive to plaintiff’s FOIA request.”
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