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MOODY v. DEA

August 15, 1984

SHEARN MOODY, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION, Defendant


Barrington D. Parker, United States District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: PARKER

BARRINGTON D. PARKER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 This proceeding arises from a document request of the plaintiff addressed to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in April 1981, under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(B) and the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552a(g)(1)(B). Shearn Moody seeks copies of all agency documents naming or relating to him since January 1, 1970. While the DEA voluntarily released to the plaintiff several pages of materials, they contained deletions pursuant to FOIA exemption (b)(2) and exemptions (b)(7)(C),(D) and (F). It is those deletions which have resulted in this litigation.

 Following an in camera review and inspection of the several pages, together with consideration of an affidavit of Thomas H. Wingate, a DEA Freedom of Information Specialist, the Court found that the DEA was justified in withholding and deleting certain items subject to the (b)(2) exemption claim. Accordingly, on June 18, 1984 summary judgment was entered for the defendant as to that claimed exemption. A ruling was deferred on the defendant's motion for summary judgment with respect to the remaining deletions claimed by the DEA as exempt from disclosure under (b)(7)(C), (D) and (F), pending a more complete explanation and justification. The defendant then filed in camera a supplemental affidavit of Thomas H. Wingate, dated June 28, 1984.

 The Court concludes that that affidavit together with the earlier Wingate affidavit supply detailed and sufficient justification for withholding the redacted portions of the several pages from disclosure to the plaintiff.

 A.

 Exemption (b)(7) of the FOIA protects from disclosure "investigatory records compiled for law enforcement purposes" to the extent that one of the several enumerated harms may apply. Under the circumstances the Court makes two initial determinations: first, whether the document is an investigatory record; and second, whether it is a record developed for law enforcement purposes. From a review of the material and the defendant's affidavits the Court finds that the two requirements have been met.

 A document under the (b)(7) exemption may be compiled for enforcement of either criminal or civil federal laws. And the government is not required to show that the investigation led to or will lead to enforcement or adjudicatory proceedings. To the extent that disclosure of such records would be inappropriate, the statute provides for a number of enumerated harms. In this proceeding the DEA relies upon three such harms, as provided in exemptions (b)(7)(C), (D) and (F).

 Exemption (b)(7)(C) exempts from disclosure "investigatory records compiled for law enforcement purposes . . . to the extent that the production of such records or information would . . . constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy." This exemption includes persons who at one time might have been of interest to a law enforcement agency during the course of an investigation as well as third parties whose names appear in the investigatory records.

 Exemption (b)(7)(D) is designed to protect the identity and information supplied by confidential sources. Thus it exempts investigatory records when disclosure "would disclose the identity of a confidential source and, in the case of a record compiled by a criminal law enforcement authority in the course of a criminal investigation . . . confidential information furnished only by the confidential source."

 Exemption (b)(7)(F) is designed to protect the identities of law enforcement sources. It exempts disclosure of investigatory records if disclosure would "endanger the life or physical safety of law enforcement personnel."

 EXEMPTION (b)(7)(C)

 The June 28 Wingate affidavit identifies several individuals, including law enforcement officers, who are subject to the personal privacy claim under exemption (b)(7)(C). The affidavit recites that information concerning some of the individuals and their alleged association with the plaintiff as drug traffickers could not be corroborated nor could it be established with certainty that the individuals were associated with the plaintiff. Other justifications against disclosure of these individuals were supplied in Wingate's earlier affidavit of January 24, 1984. The identity of several recently retired law enforcement officers has ...


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