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Davis v. United States Postal Inspection Service

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

December 15, 2014

JOHN S. DAVIS, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES POSTAL INSPECTION SERVICE, Defendant

Page 426

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 427

JOHN STELLIOS DAVIS, Plaintiff, Pro se, BUTNER, NC.

For UNITED STATES POSTAL INSPECTION SERVICE, Defendant: Eric Joseph Young, Shuchi Batra, LEAD ATTORNEYS, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Washington, DC.

Page 428

MEMORANDUM OPINION

CHRISTOPHER R. COOPER, United States District Judge.

John S. Davis, a federal inmate serving a 235-month sentence for child pornography trafficking, challenges the United States Postal Inspection Service's (" USPIS'" ) response to his Freedom of Information Act (" FOIA" ), 5 U.S.C. § 552, request for the names of the videos for which he was convicted of trafficking. USPIS has moved for summary judgment, contending that it adequately searched for responsive records and properly withheld the names under FOIA exemptions 3, 7(C), and 7(F). Because the agency's affidavits describe an adequate search and justify withholding information that may reveal victims' identities, the Court will grant USPIS' motion.[1]

I. Background

John S. Davis pled guilty to trafficking child pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252A(a)(1) and was sentenced to 235 months imprisonment. United States v. Davis, 261 F.App'x 265, 265-66 (11th Cir. 2008) ( per curiam ). In furtherance of his post-conviction appeals, Davis requested from USPIS " [t]he names of the 16 movie files that . . . allegedly contained illegal material on two CD Rom discs that were seized from my home." Compl. Ex. A (Freedom of Information Act Request) at 1. Because his request identified a particular Inspection Service case by number, USPIS searched its Inspection Service Integrated Information System, a computer database of files related to investigations. Decl. of Tammy A. Warner, USPIS Information Disclosure Technician (" Warner Decl." ) ¶ ¶ 1, 3, 5. Using the case number provided by Davis as a search term, USPIS staff located a search warrant and a search warrant inventory list and released these three pages of records to Davis after redacting certain information under Exemption 7(C)., Id. ¶ ¶ 6-7; Compl. Ex. B (Letter to Davis from Tammy A. Warner, FOIA Analyst, Office of Counsel, USPIS, dated April 8, 2013, regarding FOIA No. 2013-FPIS-00170).

Davis filed an administrative appeal of USPIS' production. Compl. ¶ 12. He asked USPIS to " manually print the names of each file, as well as the serial numbers of the CD ROMs, contained on the CD ROMs in question." Id., Ex. C (Letter to Chief Counsel, FOIA/Privacy and Government Relations, U.S. Postal Service, from Davis dated April 19, 2013) at 2. USPIS' Chief Counsel responded to

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the appeal by remanding for further searches, and Postal Inspectors assigned to Davis' criminal investigation physically searched the evidence locker related to his case. Id., Ex. D (Letter to Davis from Christopher T. Kiepac, Chief Counsel, Federal Requirements, dated May 22, 2013 regarding Freedom of Information Act Appeal No. 13-057); Warner Decl. ¶ 10. The inspectors took screen shots of the movie files listed on the two CD-ROMS in question, but determined that the file names " appeared to identify the child victims filmed or information that could reasonably identify the child victims," and thus refused to release the records based on Exemption 7(F). Id. ¶ ¶ 10-12; see Compl. Ex. E (Letter to Davis from Tammy A. Warner dated June 7, 2013, regarding FOIA No. 2013-FPIS-00222). Davis unsuccessfully appealed this decision, See Compl. Exs. F-G (respectively, letter to Chief Counsel, FOIA/Privacy and Government Relations, U.S. Postal Service, dated June 17, 2013, and letter to Davis from Christopher T. Kiepac, Chief Counsel, ...


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