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McRae v. United States Department of Justice

United States District Court, District Circuit

May 26, 2013

ANDRE L. McRAE, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

RICHARD J. LEON, United States District Judge

This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF No. 40]. For the reasons discussed below, the motion will be granted.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff currently is serving a lengthy prison sentence imposed by the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina:

On June 29, 2004, a federal grand jury sitting in the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina indicted McRae on eight counts. Count One charged McRae with conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and fifty grams or more of crack, 21 U.S.C. §§ 841 and 846. Count One named [other individuals] as coconspirators, and alleged that the conspiracy began on or about January 1, 2004 and ended on or about May 17, 2004 [when McRae was arrested by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officers who were working with ATF Special Agent Terrell Tadeo]. Counts Two, Three, and Six charged McRae with possession with the intent to distribute five grams or more of crack, id, § 841, relating to the crack recovered on April 16, May 17, and May 26, 2004. Counts Four and Seven charged McRae with possession of a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime, 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), relating to the firearm seizures on May 17 and May 26, 2004. Counts Five and Eight charged McRae with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, id. § 922(g), again relating to the firearm seizures on May 17 and May 26, 2004.
The case proceeded to trial, and a jury convicted McRae on all counts. On December 11, 2007, he was sentenced to a total of 687 months' imprisonment. McRae received concurrent 327-month sentences on the conspiracy and the possession with the intent to distribute crack counts; two concurrent 120-month sentences on the § 922(g) counts; and consecutive sentences of sixty and 300 months on the § 924(c) counts.

United States v. McRae, 336 F.App'x 301, 304 (4th Cir. 2009) (per curiam); see Pl.'s Mot. for Summ. J. [ECF No. 21], Ex. (Judgment in a Criminal Case, United States v. McRae, No.3:04CR-00157 (W.D. N.C. Jan. 9, 2008) at 1-2).

On October 6, 2008, plaintiff submitted a request under the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"), see 5 U.S.C. § 552, to the Executive Office for United States Attorneys ("EOUSA"), a component of the United States Department of Justice ("DOJ"). Compl. at 3 ΒΆ 1. The request identified plaintiff by name, date and place of birth, and social security number; it also listed the case number and the district in which he was prosecuted. See Mem. of P. & A. in Supp. of Defs.' Renewed Mot. for Summ. J. ("Defs.' Mem."), Decl. of David Luczynski ("Luczynski DecL"), Ex. A (Freedom of Information Act/Privacy Act request to the EOUSA dated October 6, 2008). In addition to any investigatory records the EOUSA may have held, plaintiff sought additional items:

I am requesting "All" of A.T.F. Terrel Tadeo (Case Agent) Field and Handwritten investigative notes leading up to the conviction of said case # 3:04 CR 157. I also am requesting Detective Rolando Ortiz['s] police report from April 16, 2004, sale and delivery of cocaine involving myself (Charlotte Meek [sic] Police Dept.)

Luczynski Decl., Ex. A; see also Compl., Ex. 1 (Letter to Gretchen C.F. Shappert, United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of North Carolina, from plaintiff dated October 16, 2008) at 2. The EOUSA notified plaintiff that some of the information he sought originated in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives ("ATF"), not the EOUSA, and suggested that plaintiff contact the ATF directly. Luczynski DecL, Ex. C (Letter to plaintiff from William G. Stewart II, Assistant Director, Freedom of Information/Privacy Act Unit, EOUSA, regarding Request No. 08-3671 dated November 6, 2008). Only after this litigation commenced did "the EOUSA release[] seventeen pages in fiiu [and] one page in part..., having redacted certain information under Exemption 7(C)." McRae v. U.S. Dep Y of Justice, 869 F.Supp.2d 151, 156 (D.D.C. 2012).

Having construed plaintiffs complaint as a challenge to the EOUSA's response, or lack of response, to his FOIA request, see Id . at 160, the Court denied defendant's prior summary judgment motion in part because defendant had "offer[ed] neither a description of the EOUSA's search for records responsive to plaintiffs FOIA request nor a justification for withholding information under Exemption 7(C)." Id. at 160. The ATF, however, demonstrated that its search for responsive records was reasonable, see Id . at 162, and that its decisions to withhold information under Exemptions 3, 7(C) and 7(E) were justified, see generally Id . at 163-66, 168-69. Because it did not show that the decision to withhold under Exemption 7(D) information pertaining to the identities of and information provided by confidential sources was proper, its prior summary judgment motion was denied in part. See Id . at 167-68.

Now before the Court is a renewed motion addressing these matters.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Summary Judgment in a FOIA ...


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