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Acosta v. Federal Bureau of Investigation

United States District Court, District of Columbia

April 17, 2013

SAMUEL ACOSTA, Plaintiff,
v.
FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, et al., Defendants

Page 48

SAMUEL ACOSTA, Plaintiff, Pro se, SEAGOVILLE, TX.

For FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TREASURY, EXECUTIVE OFFICE FOR U.S. ATTORNEYS, BUREAU OF ALCOHOL, TOBACCO, FIREARMS, AND EXPLOSIVES, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY, IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT, UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS OFFICE FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF IOWA, CRIMINAL DIVISION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Defendants: Mary Elizabeth Stratton, LEAD ATTORNEY, Leila Jade Levi, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Washington, DC.

For U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION, Defendant: Mary Elizabeth Stratton, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Washington, DC.

For DES MOINES IOWA POLICE DEPARTMENT, Defendant: Leila Jade Levi, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Washington, DC.

OPINION

Page 49

MEMORANDUM OPINION

JAMES E. BOASBERG, United States District Judge.

Pro se Plaintiff Samuel Acosta, a federal prisoner in Texas, brought this action under the Freedom of Information Act, seeking documents and records about himself from a passel of governmental entities: the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Treasury, the Department of Justice, DOJ's Criminal Division, the Executive Office of United States Attorneys, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Iowa, the Des Moines Police Department, and the Virgin Islands Police Department. In moving to dismiss or for summary judgment, the federal Defendants (all but the last two listed) principally argue Plaintiff's failure to exhaust his administrative remedies. The Court will grant the Motion with respect to all but EOUSA and the FBI, as prolonged delay vitiates Plaintiff's exhaustion requirement with respect to those entities.

I. Background

Plaintiff's Complaint says that " beginning in 2010 and thereafter up to this day [apparently September 21, 2012, the date the Complaint was filed], Plaintiff made requests in writing for copies of documents . . . within the systems of records maintained by the Defendants as to Criminal Case No. 4:07-CR-00083-RP-1 . . . ." Compl., ¶ 9. The Complaint does not reference any specific FOIA requests, and the pleadings only reveal three: one submitted to ICE dated October 11, 2010, see Mot., Decl. of Ryan Law, ¶ 6 & Exh. A, one submitted to EOUSA the same date, see Mot., Decl. of David M. Hardy, ¶ 6 & Exh. A, and one submitted to the DEA dated March 19, 2012. See Mot., Decl. of William C. Little, Jr., ¶ 13 & Exh. A (separately filed at ECF No. 24). The manner in which each agency responded will be set forth in further detail in Section III, infra .

II. Legal Standard

Although Defendants here move alternatively for dismissal or summary judgment, the D.C. Circuit has directed that the Court address their exhaustion arguments under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See Hidalgo v. FBI, 344 F.3d 1256, 1260, 358 U.S.App. D.C. 104 (D.C. Cir. 2003) (vacating grant of summary judgment and remanding FOIA case " with instructions to the district court to dismiss the complaint under [Rule] 12(b)(6) . . . for failure to exhaust administrative remedies" ); see also Jean-Pierre v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, 880 F.Supp.2d 95, 100 n.4 (D.D.C. 2012) (" Although FOIA cases typically and appropriately are decided on motions for summary judgment, where an agency argues that the ...


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