D. Sufficiency of Vaughn index
Plaintiff challenges the adequacy of the DEA's and the Customs Service's indices submitted by the government pursuant to Vaughn v. Rosen, 157 U.S. App. D.C. 340, 484 F.2d 820 (D.C. Cir. 1973), cert. denied, 415 U.S. 977, 39 L. Ed. 2d 873, 94 S. Ct. 1564 (1974), and the FBI's choice not to create a Vaughn index.
An agency typically must submit an index identifying the documents withheld and the statutory exemption claimed. An adequate Vaughn index facilitates the trial court's duty of ruling on the applicability of certain invoked FOIA exemptions, gives the requester as much information as possible that he may use to present his case to the trial court and thus enables the adversary system to operate. Lykins v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, 233 U.S. App. D.C. 349, 725 F.2d 1455, 1463 (D.C. Cir. 1984). "It is the function, not the form, of the index that is important." Keys v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, 265 U.S. App. D.C. 189, 830 F.2d 337, 349 (D.C. Cir. 1987) (citations omitted). So long as the Vaughn index and supporting government affidavits are sufficiently specific to support the exemptions claimed, the agency need not submit an index with "a degree of detail that would reveal precisely the information that the agency claims it is entitled to withhold." Id.
Plaintiff argues that despite providing an extensive Vaughn index, the DEA failed to adequately describe the nature of each document withheld in functional terms and failed to disclose on the face of each document which exemption applies to which redaction. Having reviewed the DEA's index and supporting affidavits, the Court rejects plaintiff's claim. The DEA has sufficiently explained the reasons for the application of each exemption. Janet Decl. PP 24-39. For those documents with redactions, the index sufficiently described which exemptions applied to which redactions; contrary to plaintiff's argument, it is not necessary for the exemptions to be listed on the actual pages of the documents. See Key v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, 830 F.2d at 349-50. The Court also finds that the Vaughn index prepared by the Customs Service was adequate.
The FBI provided no Vaughn index because it claimed an exemption for all of its records under Exemption 7(A). Having upheld the FBI's statement that the information was not segregable, the Court finds that the FBI was not required to prepare a Vaughn index.
IV. BRADY CLAIM
Plaintiff argues that the obligation to turn over exculpatory information that is required by the Constitution under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 10 L. Ed. 2d 215, 83 S. Ct. 1194 (1963), trumps the legitimate decision of a federal agency to withhold information under a particular exemption of the FOIA.
The government suggests that plaintiff's claim that exculpatory evidence was withheld should be raised in a habeas corpus proceeding, not in an FOIA case. The government also argues that the FOIA treats all requesters alike and that a particular requester's status or reason for filing a FOIA/Privacy Act request is irrelevant and does not effect the exemptions the government may invoke. See North v. Walsh, 279 U.S. App. D.C. 373, 881 F.2d 1088, 1096 (D.C. Cir. 1989). The Court agrees with defendants.
As the court stated in Johnson v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, 758 F. Supp. 2, 5 (D.D.C. 1991), Brady v. Maryland does not provide grounds for waiving FOIA exemptions: "Resort to Brady v. Maryland as grounds for waiving confidentiality is . . . outside the proper role of FOIA. Exceptions cannot be made because of the subject matter or the identity of the requester." The agency is not "required by FOIA to forego a statutory exemption for a document in its possession because the document has been identified as possibly exculpatory." Johnson v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, 758 F. Supp. at 5.
Plaintiff may not trump the agencies' invocation of the FOIA exemptions by arguing that the exempted information should be provided as exculpatory evidence. His arguments based on Brady v. Maryland and its progeny should be raised in a collateral proceeding challenging his conviction.
For the forgoing reasons, plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and motion to strike are DENIED, and defendants' motion for summary judgment is GRANTED. An Order consistent with this Opinion is entered this same day.
PAUL L. FRIEDMAN
United States District Judge
This case came before the Court on November 7, 1994, for a hearing on Plaintiffs Motion for Summary Judgment, Plaintiff's Motion to Strike, and Defendants' Motion For Summary Judgment. Upon consideration of the motions, the supporting and opposing papers, the entire record in this case, and the arguments of counsel presented in open court, and for the reasons stated in the accompanying Opinion, the Court finds that there are no genuine issues as to any materal facts and that defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Accordingly, it is hereby
ORDERED that Plaintiffs Motion to Strike is DENIED; it is
FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff's Motion For Summary Judgment is DENIED and Defendants' Motion For Summary Judgment is GRANTED; it is
FURTHER ORDERED that judgment is entered in Defendants' favor; and it is
FURTHER ORDERED that this action is DISMISSED with prejudice.
PAUL L. FRIEDMAN
United States District Judge