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Canaday v. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

April 21, 2008

MARGOT CANADAY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rosemary M. Collyer United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff Margot Canaday, proceeding pro se, filed a Complaint in this matter on January 25, 2008.A copy of the Summons and Complaint were served on Defendant United States Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") on January 28, 2008. See Dkt. # 2. In USCIS's February 14, 2008 Motion for Extension of Time to Answer the Complaint, see Dkt. # 4, USCIS informed the Court that USCIS was still processing and responding to Ms. Canaday's March 16, 2006 Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"), 5 U.S.C. § 552 et seq., request. On February 21, 2008, the Court ordered USCIS to complete production of the documents to Ms. Canaday no later than March 25, 2008.

After receiving an extension of this deadline, USCIS reported that "[a]ll non-exempt responsive USCIS documents known to exist [have been] provided to Plaintiff." See Def.'s Status Report [Dkt. # 8] ¶ 3. A total of 131 pages of responsive documents have been produced to Ms. Canaday in whole or in part, and 17 pages of documents have been referred to third-party agencies.

USCIS redacted certain documents on the basis of FOIA Exemptions 2, 5 and 6.*fn1 See id., Banks Decl. ¶ 9.

Ms. Canaday requested an in camera inspection of the redacted documents and sought to compel all non-exempt information. See Dkt. # 7. In support of her motion, she argues:

[D]efendant has persisted in withholding certain non-exempt information. Specifically, [D]efendant has redacted large blocks of text from eighteen pages on the ground that the information is protected from disclosure by Exemption 6. Likewise, the agency has redacted the names of high level public officials throughout the production on the basis of Exemption 6, including the names of the former Surgeon General, Solicitor General and the Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. . . . These sweeping redactions appear unnecessary to protect the personal privacy interest that may attach to the limited portions of the information that identify a specific individual. . . . Furthermore, . . . [t]hese officials simply do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their identity reflected in official correspondence and policy documents. . . . Under other circumstances, [P]laintiff would seek to compel a Vaughn index or justifying declarations from defendant before asking the Court for relief. However, [D]efendant's excessive delay at every stage of processing [P]laintiff's request has put [P]laintiff in a time crunch with respect to completing her manuscript.

Id. at 3-7.

Despite USCIS's opposition to Ms. Canaday's motion, see Dkt. # 8, the Court ordered USCIS to present the documents at issue to the Court for an in camera inspection. See Apr. 16, 2008 Minute Entry Order ("Defense counsel convincingly pleads a heavy work load. The easiest way to resolve this case will be through an in camera inspection of the eighteen redacted documents produced by Defendant pursuant to Plaintiff's FOIA request."). USCIS produced the documents to the Court for review with an accompanying Vaughn*fn2 index. See Dkt. # 11.

A. Non-exempt Documents or Portions of Documents

After an in camera inspection of the documents and a review of the Vaughn index, the Court has determined that the following redactions are not exempt from disclosure under FOIA:

! third redaction on page 110 (text of letter)

! third redaction on page 111 (text of letter)

! third redaction on page 112 (text of letter)

! second redaction on page 113 (text of letter; all but the name of ...


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