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Murray v. Federal Bureau of Prisons

September 29, 2010

CHARLES F. MURRAY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Paul L. Friedman United States District Judge

OPINION

This matter is before the Court on two separate motions to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment filed on behalf of the Federal Bureau of Prisons ("BOP"), a component of the United States Department of Justice ("DOJ").*fn1 For the reasons discussed below, plaintiff's claims under the Privacy Act, see 5 U.S.C. § 552a, will be dismissed. Regarding plaintiff's claims under the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"), see 5 U.S.C. § 552, summary judgment will be granted in part and denied in part.

I. BACKGROUND

At all times relevant to the complaint, plaintiff was a federal prisoner designated to the Federal Correctional Institution in Fort Dix, New Jersey ("FCI Fort Dix"). According to the BOP's Inmate Locator, plaintiff was released on July 2, 2010.

A. Request No. 2007-08381

On July 21, 2007, plaintiff submitted a FOIA request to the BOP, Compl. ¶ 5, for the following information:

1. List of visitors and dates of visits received at [the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] from July 23, 2003 thru March 2005, at [the Federal Correctional Institution in Elkton, Ohio] from March 2005 thru September 2006 and at FCI Fort Dix from September 2006 to date.

2. A list of Fine payments made thru the BOP's [Financial Responsibility Program] from March 2005 thru July 2007.

Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Defendant's Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment [Dkt. #14] ("Def.'s Mem."), Declaration of Vanessa Herbin-Smith ("Herbin-Smith Decl."), Ex. 2 (Privacy Act Request dated July 21, 2007). In addition, plaintiff requested "a waiver of fees since [he was] without any funds to pay for excess copies that might be required." Id. On July 31, 2007, the BOP denied plaintiff's fee waiver request.

Id., Ex. 3 (Letter from H.J. Sadowski, Regional Counsel, Northeast Regional Office, BOP, regarding FOIA Request No. 2007-08381). Apparently no further action was taken with respect to this request.

B. Request No. 2008-06038

On March 28, 2008, plaintiff submitted a similar request to the BOP seeking the following information:

1. a list of visits that I received while in the custody of [the BOP] giving the names of the visitors, the date of the visit, length of the visit and,

2. a list detailing all payments withdrawn from my prison account under the Inmate Financial Responsibility Program . . . showing the date of the payment, the amount of each payment and to which Criminal Judgment and Commitment ORder [sic] it was applied.

Herbin-Smith Decl., Ex. 6 (Privacy Act Request to the FOIA/PA Unit, BOP). The BOP located 25 pages of records responsive to the request, which had been assigned Request No. 2008-06038. Herbin-Smith Decl. ¶¶ 9-10. Of these 25 pages, the BOP released five pages in full and redacted certain information from the remaining pages "because they contain third-party information and information intended for staff use only." Id. ¶ 10. Relying on FOIA Exemptions 2, 6 and 7(C), these 20 pages of records were released in redacted form. Id. Among the records released was "a 2-page Inmate Visitor List from [plaintiff's] Inmate Central File." Id. ¶ 11.

Plaintiff filed an administrative appeal of the BOP's determination with the DOJ's Office of Information Policy ("OIP") challenging the completeness of the BOP's response and the format of the records regarding payment of court-ordered judgments. Id. ΒΆ 14; see generally id., Ex. 8 (July 10, 2008 letter to the Office of Inform/Privacy [sic], DOJ). The list of visits "only included those persons that are currently on [his] visitor list," and therefore the list he received was not the "complete" list he requested. Id., Ex. 8 at 2. For example, the list did not include visits from his former attorney, his significant other, and probation officers, and it did not indicate the length of each visit. Id. In addition, plaintiff asserted that the BOP's response to his request for a list detailing all ...


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