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RAulerson v. Ashcroft

January 7, 2003

DONALD RAULERSON, SR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOHN ASHCROFT, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina, United States District Judge.

Document No.: 88

MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING THE DEFENDANT'S RENEWED MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

I. INTRODUCTION

This Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"), 5 U.S.C. § 552, case is predicated on a FOIA request that the pro se plaintiff, Donald Raulerson, submitted to the FBI Miami Field Office ("MFO") and FBI Headquarters ("FBIHQ") in 1995. In a March 29, 2002 Memorandum Opinion and Order, the court granted in part and denied in part the defendant's motio n for summary judgment and denied the plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment. The court denied without prejudice the Federal Bureau of Investigation's ("the FBI" or "the defendant") motion for summary judgment to the extent that it relied on FOIA Exemption 7(D)'s implied confidentiality exemption, remanding this issue to the defendant for further evidence to support the implied confidentiality argument. The case is currently before the court on the defendant's renewed motion for summary judgment filed pursuant to this court's Order. For the reasons that follow, the court grants the defendant's renewed motion for summary judgment.

II. BACKGROUND *fn1

A. Factual Background

On March 6, 1995, the plaintiff submitted a FOIA request to the MFO and the FBIHQ. Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. at 1. On April 28, 1995, the MFO notified the plaintiff that the FBIHQ would handle his entire request. Id. at 1-2. Nearly four years later, on April 7, 1999, the FBI provided the plaintiff with a list of the files located in response to his requests, indicating that it had located more than 69,000 pages of responsive documents. Id. at 2, 4; Ex. C. *fn2

After negotiations, the plaintiff agreed to reduce the scope of his request by 66,788 pages. Id. On February 29, 2000, FBIHQ forwarded the plaintiff 563 pages of materials that for the most part concern the plaintiff's attempt to kill a federal officer, racketeering, obstructing justice, and defrauding a financial institution charges. Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. at 2, 4; Ex. D. Nonetheless, the FBI did not forward to the plaintiff all of the information that he had expected. Instead, it withheld certain information, mostly by means of excision, pursuant to various FOIA exemptions. Ex. D at 13. The FBI also informed the plaintiff that some of the documents he had requested originated with the Drug Enforcement Administration ("DEA") and Bureau of Prisons ("BOP"), and that those agencies would respond to the plaintiff directly. Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. at 3. Finally, the FBI denied in full 13 pages of information concerning certain audiotapes. Id.

The FBI provided many of the information it had previously denied with its motion for summary judgment. Ex. D at 13, n.7; Ex. G. The FBI provided yet additional previously-denied information with its renewed motion for summary judgment. Renewed Ex. A.

B. Procedural History

The plaintiff filed his initial complaint with this court on November 3, 1995. *fn3 On March 29, 2002, the court granted the FBI's motion for summary judgment to the extent it relied on arguments other than implied confidentiality. Mem. Op. dated Mar. 29, 2002 ("Mem. Op.") at 20-21. Specifically, the FBI used Exemption 7(D) to exclude several categories of information, including (1) information that individuals provided to the FBI under an implied grant of confidentiality, and (2) information that a law enforcement agency provided to the FBI under an implied grant of confidentiality. Id. The court, however, concluded that the FBI failed to meet the required evidentiary burden to show implied confidentiality. Id.

Because the existence of Exemption 7(D) implied confidentiality was unclear, and because the plaintiff's other arguments failed to demonstrate that the FBI should release all withheld information, the court denied the plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment. Id. at 21. Accordingly, the court ordered the FBI to file a renewed motion for summary judgment elaborating on its implied confidentiality argument. Id. at 17-18; Order dated Mar. 29, 2002.

At this point, the procedural history of this case becomes more complicated and critical. The court specified in its March 29, 2002 Order that the FBI's renewed motion and the plaintiff's response should address only the defendant's application of Exemption 7(D) to the information allegedly protected by implied confidentiality. Mem. Op. at 17-18, 20-21; Order dated Mar. 29, 2002. The ruling denied the plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment with prejudice. Mem. Op. at 21; Order dated Mar. 29, 2002.

As directed by the court, on May 10, 2002, the FBI filed a renewed motion for summary judgment. The FBI explained that in response to the court's ruling it identified the information withheld pursuant to Exemption 7(D) as it relates to implied confidentiality and reevaluated the need to withhold that information. Def.'s Renewed Stat. of Mat. Facts *fn4 ¶ 12. The FBI determined that Exemption 7(D) does not justify the withholding of the information from individuals withhe ld pursuant to Exemption 7(D). Fourth Hodes Decl. ¶¶ 4-7. Accordingly, the FBI released the previously withheld information obtained from individuals and ...


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