Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Ralph v. Federal Bureau of Investigation

April 30, 2012

RALPH SCHOENMAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Colleen Kollar-kotelly United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Over seven years ago, Plaintiff Ralph Schoenman ("Schoenman"), a self-described political activist and author, brought this action against a handful of federal agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency (the "CIA") and Federal Bureau of Investigation (the "FBI") (collectively, "Defendants"), seeking the disclosure of a broad array of records under the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA") and the Privacy Act of 1974 ("PA"). On January 23, 2012, following years of motion practice and twelve detailed opinions from this Court, a final judgment was entered reflecting an adjudication of all the claims, rights, and liabilities of the parties.

Currently before the Court is Schoenman's [178] Motion for Reconsideration, filed on February 21, 2012, seeking reconsideration of certain aspects of this Court's prior decisions under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e).*fn1 Upon careful consideration of the parties' submissions, the relevant authorities, and the record as a whole, Schoenman's Motion for Reconsideration shall be DENIED.*fn2

I. BACKGROUND

Because this action has been pending for over seven years and has seen a considerable amount of motion practice in that time, setting forth the full breadth of the background of the case here is neither necessary nor desirable. Instead, the Court shall briefly outline the facts and procedural history most germane to the instant motion and assume familiarity with its many prior opinions, which are incorporated herein.*fn3

In July 2001, Schoenman's legal counsel submitted FOIA/PA requests to several federal agencies, including the CIA and the FBI, seeking the disclosure of a broad array of records relating to him, Lord Bertrand Russell, and six named organizations. The CIA and the FBI acknowledged receipt of Schoenman's requests and conducted searches of their records, ultimately producing some records and withholding others in full or in part. Dissatisfied with the response he received, Schoenman commenced this civil action on December 20, 2004, naming as defendants the CIA, the FBI, and other federal agencies.

In the years that followed, the issues in the case were successively winnowed down or refined by the parties' motion practice and the decisions of this Court. Most notably for present purposes, in an opinion dated March 31, 2009, the Court granted the FBI summary judgment on the reasonableness of its search for responsive records because Schoenman "conceded the issue" by failing to respond to the FBI's arguments in any of his submissions. See Schoenman v. FBI, 604 F. Supp. 2d 174, 204 (D.D.C. 2009). Subsequently, in an opinion dated February 9, 2011, the Court faulted Schoenman for attempting to "resurrect and relitigate" the reasonableness of the FBI's search in part because "Schoenman, who is represented by counsel in this action, ha[d] never filed a formal motion for relief from this Court's prior order granting the FBI summary judgment on the issue of the reasonableness of its search." Schoenman v. FBI, 763 F. Supp. 2d 173, 202 (D.D.C. 2011). In its February 9, 2011 decision, the Court also granted summary judgment to the FBI on the question of whether the agency had properly withheld confidential source symbol numbers and confidential source file numbers under FOIA Exemptions 2 and 7(D). See id. at 196, 200.

Thereafter, the parties briefed the sole remaining issue in the action-namely, the disposition of certain CIA-originating records referred to the CIA by the FBI for processing and a direct response to Schoenman. On January 23, 2012, the Court granted summary judgment in the CIA's favor and, because no other viable claims for disclosure remained extant, entered a final judgment reflecting an adjudication of all the claims, rights, and liabilities of the parties. See Order & Final Judgment, ECF No. [175]. As part of its January 23, 2012 decision, the Court denied Schoenman's two motions to late file a reply memorandum of points and authorities, a declaration, and a statement of material facts in connection with the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment. See Schoenman v. FBI, 2012 WL 171576, at *1-4 (D.D.C. Jan. 23, 2012). Schoenman filed the instant motion on February 21, 2012.*fn4

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) permits a party to file "[a] motion to alter or amend a judgment" within "28 days after the entry of the judgment."*fn5 FED. R. CIV. P. 59(e). Motions under Rule 59(e) are "disfavored" and the moving party bears the burden of establishing "extraordinary circumstances" warranting relief from a final judgment. Neidermeier v. Office of Baucus, 153 F. Supp. 2d 23, 28 (D.D.C. 2001). Rule 59(e) motions are "discretionary and need not be granted unless the district court finds that there is an intervening change of controlling law, the availability of new evidence, or the need to correct a clear error or prevent manifest injustice." Firestone v. Firestone, 76 F.3d 1205, 1208 (D.C. Cir. 1996) (per curiam) (internal quotation marks omitted). Rule 59(e) does not provide a vehicle "to relitigate old matters, or to raise arguments or present evidence that could have been raised prior to the entry of judgment." Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker, 554 U.S. 471, 485 n.5 (2008) (internal quotation marks omitted).

III. DISCUSSION

Through his Motion for Reconsideration, Schoenman contends that the Court should reconsider: (1) its January 23, 2012 decision insofar as it denied his two motions to late file various documents in connection with the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment; (2) its February 9, 2011 decision insofar as the Court determined that the FBI properly invoked FOIA Exemption 2 as a basis for withholding certain information; and (3) its February 9, 2011 decision insofar as it rejected Schoenman's attempts to relitigate the reasonableness of the FBI's search for responsive records. The Court addresses each component of Schoenman's Motion for Reconsideration in turn.

A. Schoenman Has Failed to Establish that Reconsideration is Warranted With Respect to the Denial of His Two Motions to Late File

Schoenman first contends that the Court should reconsider its January 23, 2012 decision denying his two motions to late file a reply memorandum of points and authorities, a declaration, and a statement of material facts in connection with the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment. For at least three reasons, the Court ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.