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Eduardo Benavides v. Bureau of Prisons

March 30, 2011

EDUARDO BENAVIDES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BUREAU OF PRISONS, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard W. Roberts United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the Court on the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment. For the reasons discussed below, defendant's motion will be granted in part and denied in part, and plaintiff's motion will be denied.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff submitted two separate requests under the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"), see 5 U.S.C. § 552, to the Federal Bureau of Prisons ("BOP"), a component of the United States Department of Justice ("DOJ"), for information pertaining to "billing records and recorded telephone conversations of phone calls plaintiff made in prison to his attorney Robert O. Switzer." Compl. ¶ 1.*fn1

A. May 5, 2009 Request

By letter dated May 5, 2009, addressed to the Director of the BOP's South Central Regional Office ("SCRO"), plaintiff sought information pertaining to telephone calls he made while incarcerated at two BOP facilities in Texas. Compl. ¶ 1. In relevant part, the request stated:

I am requesting . . . a copy of the recorded telephone conversations I made while in BOP, and record of dates and times the telephone calls were made. The phone number that is the subject to my request is (210) 299-1053. The calls were made from February 25 to August 8, 2008 at [Federal Correctional Complex ("FCC")] Beaumont -- Medium, and from August 8, to October 31, 2008 at [Federal Correctional Institution ("FCI")] Bastrop.

Id., Attach. (Freedom of Information Act Request). By letter dated July 9, 2009, SCRO staff notified plaintiff that his FOIA request must be submitted to the BOP's Director at the Washington, D.C. headquarters office. Id., Attach. (letter from J.A. Sickler, Regional Counsel, SCRO).

B. July 16, 2009 Request

On July 16, 2009, plaintiff addressed a second letter to BOP's Director which both referenced his May 5, 2009 letter and requested additional information. Compl., Attach. (FOIA Request). In relevant part, the second requested stated:

I am . . . expanding my request to include (2) additional calls made on 6/5 and 6/23/09, while at FCI Bastrop. The records of the calls made on 10/30 and 10/31/08, and 6/5 and 6/23/09 are the most pressing and needed for filing in court.

Id. at 1.

C. FOIA Request 2009-10149

On July 30, 2009, the BOP's Central Office, FOIA Section, "received correspondence from [p]laintiff which contained letters dated June 19, July 12, and July 16, 2009, in addition to the May 5, 2009, letter and July 9, 2009, response." Def.'s Mem. of P. & A. in Supp. of the Mot. for Summ. J. ("Def.'s Mem."), Decl. of Larry Collins ("Collins Decl.") ¶ 5. "The separate letters . . . were processed as a single request as [they] were received on the same date, July 30, 2009, and the records sought by each letter were records [p]laintiff indicated he had previously requested from institution staff and been denied." Id. ¶ 9. The request was assigned a tracking number, 2009-10149, id., and staff "forwarded electronic copies of these letters to the SCRO Regional Counsel's Office for response." Id. ¶ 5. The June 19, and July 12, 2009 letters, copies of which are submitted with defendant's dispositive motion, see Collins Decl., Attach. 4-5, are not mentioned ...


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