United States District Court, D. Columbia.
Decided September 24, 2014.
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
BRIAN EUGENE SMITH, Plaintiff, Pro se, ADELANTO, CA.
For EXECUTIVE OFFICE FOR UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION, Defendants: Fred Elmore Haynes, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Washington, DC.
RICHARD J. LEON, United States District Judge.
Plaintiff brings this action under the Freedom of Information Act (" FOIA" ), see
5 U.S.C. § 552, against two components of the United States Department of Justice (" DOJ" ): the Executive Office for United States Attorneys (" EOUSA" ) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (" DEA" ). This matter is before the Court on defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [Dkt. #24] regarding the EOUSA's response to plaintiff's FOIA request (FOIA Reference Number 11-389), the EOUSA's referral of four pages of records to the DEA, and the DEA's response to plaintiff as to these four pages (DEA FOIA Request Numbers 11-00186-PR, 11-00182-P and 10-00636-P). For the reasons discussed below, the motion will be GRANTED.
I. plaintiff's Criminal History
To better understand plaintiff's FOIA requests, it is useful to read the Third Circuit's summary of the facts of his underlying criminal case:
... In the aggregate, the trial testimony revealed that [Juan Carlos] Hinojosa was stopped while transporting cocaine to Pittsburgh from Indiana. After waiving his Miranda warnings, Hinojosa admitted to law enforcement that he was transporting cocaine to [plaintiff] in Pittsburgh. The Indiana authorities asked Hinojosa if he would be willing to participate in a controlled delivery of the drugs. Hinojosa agreed.
Upon arriving in Pittsburgh, Indiana law enforcement met up with agents of the [DEA], who set the scene for the drug transfer at a local gas station. Hinojosa was instructed to sit in the driver's side of his automobile and to telephone [plaintiff]. Law enforcement agents watched from discrete locations. Following instructions, Hinojosa called [plaintiff], informing [plaintiff that] he was ready to deliver the drugs and that they should meet at the gas station, near Station Square. [Plaintiff] told Hinojosa that he would be delayed, and that he had " some issues" in collecting the $17,000.00 [plaintiff] owed Hinojosa from a previous delivery.
[Plaintiff] ultimately arrived at the location and spoke briefly to Hinojosa, who told him that his " things are in a bag in the trunk." [Plaintiff] went to the trunk of Hinojosa's car and removed the cocaine. He concealed it in a jacket and returned to his own car, where he was arrested while attempting to hide the drugs in the back seat of his vehicle.
United States v. Smith, 483 F.App'x 672, 674 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 133 S.Ct. 562, 184 L.Ed.2d 366 (2012);
see Compl. [Dkt. #1] ¶ ¶ 6, 17. Plaintiff and Hinojosa " were charged with intent to distribute and the attempted delivery of five kilograms of cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § § 841 and 846." Smith, 483 F.App'x at 674; see Pl.'s Reply [Dkt. #29] (" Pl.'s Opp'n" ) at 4. Hinojosa pled guilty; plaintiff " waived his right to a jury trial and was found guilty after a one-day bench trial." Smith, 483 F.App'x at 674. He has been " sentenced to 120 months' imprisonment, followed by five years of supervised release." Id.
B. plaintiff's EOUSA: FOIA Reference Number 11-389
In relevant part, plaintiff's initial plaintiff's EOUSA read:
My Request is to receive Full di[s]covery, which is in the United States Attorney possession for the Western District of Pennsylvania. United States v. Brian E. Smith Cr No: 08-04. Pursuant to . . . the Freedom of Information Act, in conjunction with the Privacy Act. Discovery: CD dated 12-7-07, DVD dated 12-9-07, lab report, all officers['] reports, all photographs, chain of custody of drugs, Phone records for Sprint phone, Cricket phone and T-Mobile Phone. Co-defendant arrest report, FBI (302) DEA (6) all Brady and Jenks material[.]
Mem. of P. & A. in Support of Defs.' Mot. for Partial Summ. J. [Dkt. #24] (" Defs.' Mem." ), Decl. of David Luczynski [Dkt. #24-1] (" Luczynski Decl." ), Ex. A (FOIA/PA Request dated February 1, 2011). In subsequent correspondence, plaintiff narrowed his request and sought two particular items: (1) a lab report in DEA Case No. CM080023, and (2) records pertaining to the chain of custody of drugs allegedly seized from Juan Carlos Hinojosa on December 6, 2007, transported to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and delivered to plaintiff on December 7, 2007. Luczynski Decl., Exs. C-E (Letters from plaintiff to the EOUSA dated February 24, 2011, March 24, 2011, and May 6, 2011, respectively). A search of EOUSA files yielded five pages of records. Luczynski Decl. ¶ 9. The EOUSA withheld one page in full and referred four pages to the DEA, the DOJ component from which they originated. Luczynski Decl. ¶ ¶ 9, 12, 18. The pages referred to the DEA pertained to a lab report, and at least some of these pages comprised a DEA Form 7, Luczynski Decl. ¶ 12, which is described as " a standardize[d] multi-block form ... to ...