room" at headquarters, where bulky file materials are stored. The FBI also queried Special Agent Bruce E. Koenig, who had performed the laboratory work with regard to Plaintiff's criminal prosecution, as to whether additional relevant records might be provided.
In sum, the Court finds no reason to question the reasonableness of the Government's search in this case. Plaintiff's assertions as to the existence of records beyond those already located by the Government have no basis. Plaintiff has no evidence that any such records exist, and he has not produced any evidence that suggests any improper motive or deceit on the part of the Government.
This Court finds that the Government conducted its searches in good faith and in a fashion which was reasonably calculated to produce responsive material under the FOIA. It has discharged its obligation under the FOIA in a reasonable manner.
II. Adequacy of the Government's Disclosure
A. The Government's Exemptions to the FOIA Under (b)(7)(C)
The Government has reviewed Plaintiff's request for release of material pursuant to the FOIA on at least two occasions. While the Government initially claimed exemptions from disclosure under FOIA under Exemptions (b)(2), (b)(7)(C), and (b)(7)(D), it now seeks only that certain material be withheld from Plaintiff under Exemption (b)(7)(C).
Exemption (b)(7)(C) protects information compiled for law enforcement purposes to the extent that disclosure "could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy." 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(7)(C). Privacy interests are at stake because the mere mention of an individual's name in a law enforcement file will engender comments and speculation and carry a stigmatizing connotation. Branch v. FBI, 658 F. Supp. 204, 209 (D.D.C. 1987). Once a privacy interest has been established, it must be balanced against the public interest, if any, that could be served by disclosure. Albuquerque Publishing Co. v. Department of Justice, 726 F. Supp. 851, 855 (D.D.C. 1989).
In this case, the Government withheld information related to (1) government personnel involved in the investigation of Officer Carrillo's murder and, (2) Officer Carrillo's family members. The Government has acted properly to protect the privacy rights of those individuals. Plaintiff has put forth no compelling and countervailing public interest that should override those individuals' privacy rights, and the Court cannot discern such a public interest on the basis of the record before it. The Court finds that the Government has properly withheld information pursuant to exemption (b)(7)(C).
B. Method of Disclosure
Plaintiff also requests this Court to order the FBI to immediately mail him copies of "all of the three sets of additional laboratory test printouts from FBI Examinations 70505032, 80119014 and 80309042" (the "FBI Examinations"). In particular, it appears that Plaintiff has requested copies of the visicorder charts in connection with the FBI Examinations.
The Government claims that the visicorder charts were prepared on a photosensitive paper which would be damaged by exposure to light through photocopying them. Decl. of Special Agent Bruce Eric Koenig. The cost of reproducing the visicorder charts would be at least $ 4,800.00. Decl. of Special Agent Richard R. Thomas. Plaintiff disputes the Government's contention, citing a 1992 Eastman Kodak Company information sheet (the "Information Sheet") that advises that "copies can be made of the oscillogram [KODAK LINAGRAPH DIRECT Print Paper, Type 2022] on an electrostatic copier with little effect on the contrast of the record." The Government challenges the applicability and conclusions of the Information Sheet.
It is well established that "the purpose of FOIA is to provide a method of informing the public about Government operations and not to benefit private litigants." Ellis, 941 F. Supp. at 1078; Aviation Data Serv. v. Federal Aviation Admin., 687 F.2d 1319, 1322 (10th Cir. 1982); Fenster v. Brown, 199 U.S. App. D.C. 158, 617 F.2d 740, 743-4 (D.C. Cir. 1979). Moreover, the FOIA does not create a duty on the part of an agency to provide copies of responsive documents -- only to make them available for review. Oglesby v. United States Department of the Army, 287 U.S. App. D.C. 126, 920 F.2d 57 (D.C. Cir. 1990).
In Oglesby, a writer brought an action against certain government agencies under the FOIA relating to a German general who had served as the chief of an international Nazi spy ring during World War II and who allegedly negotiated a secret agreement with the United States. The court in that case rejected the argument that the National Archives and Records Administration (the "NARA") failed to comply with the FOIA by making responsive documents available in its "research room" instead of sending copies to the requester. 920 F.2d at 70. The court explained: "NARA did not deny appellant any records; all relevant records were made available to him." Id.
This circuit has taken a similar approach to an agency's requirements under the FOIA in the case of Tax Analysts v. United States Department of Justice, 269 U.S. App. D.C. 315, 845 F.2d 1060 (D.C. Cir. 1988), affirmed, 492 U.S. 136, 106 L. Ed. 2d 112, 109 S. Ct. 2841 (1989). In Tax Analysts a magazine publisher brought an action against the Tax Division of the DOJ seeking weekly access to certain court opinions, orders and injunctions. The court held that "an agency need not respond to a FOIA request for copies of documents where the agency itself has provided an alternative form of access," 845 F.2d at 1065, for example, by making records available in a "reading room." 845 F.2d at 1067. The court stated further that "[An agency] is not required by statute to mail copies of [records] . . . nor even to provide a requester-convenient location for access." Id.
In this case, the Government has offered to make the visicorder charts, as well as all other original and releasable material that might be damaged by photocopying, available for review by the Plaintiff or an expert of his designation. The case law makes clear that the Government's offer meets its obligation under the FOIA. The substantial expense of reproducing the visicorder charts, as well as the possibility that the visicorder charts might be damaged if photocopied, make the Government's proposed form of disclosure even more compelling.
The Court finds that the Government has complied with the requirements of the FOIA by making the visicorder charts from the FBI Examinations, as well as other original data and documents that might be damaged if photocopied, available for review by Plaintiff, or an agent designated by Plaintiff, at the FBI's Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
The Court finds that the Government has provided an adequate search pursuant to Plaintiff's FOIA request. The Government's application of Exemption (b)(7)(C) is proper. The Government's proposal to make the laboratory-test printouts from the FBI Examinations available for review by Plaintiff or an expert of his designation at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. is an appropriate form of disclosure under the FOIA. Plaintiff's motion to compel will be denied. An appropriate order is attached hereto.
United States District Judge