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Pinson v. United States DOJ

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

February 10, 2015

JEREMY PINSON, Plaintiff,
v.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, et al., Defendants

Jeremy Pinson, Plaintiff, Pro se, Springfield, MO USA.

For U.S. Department of Justice, Charles E. Samuels, Jr., John Dignam, Defendants: Damon William Taaffe, Eric Joseph Young, Theresa Ekeoma Dike, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Carl Ezekiel Ross, Washington, DC USA.

For U.S. Marshal Service, Office of The Inspector General, Office of The Attorney General, Office of The Inspector General, Office of The Deputy Attorney General, Office of The Associate Attorney General, National Security Division, Office of Professional Responsibility, Defendants: Damon William Taaffe, Eric Joseph Young, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Washington, DC USA.

Page 251

MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT Re Document No.: 66

RUDOLPH CONTRERAS, United States District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Jeremy Pinson is an inmate at MCFP Springfield, an administrative security federal medical center located in Missouri. While in prison, Mr. Pinson filed Freedom of Information Act (" FOIA" ), 5 U.S.C. § 552, requests with several components of the U.S. Department of Justice (" DOJ" ). In certain cases, the DOJ asked Mr. Pinson to clarify his records requests, told him that it could not find records that are responsive to his requests, or informed him that the records he sought were exempt

Page 252

from disclosure by law. Mr. Pinson disagreed with some of these determinations, so he filed a complaint claiming that the DOJ improperly withheld numerous records from him in violation of FOIA. In response, the DOJ filed nine pre-answer motions, each asking the Court to dismiss or grant summary judgment in its favor on different portions of Mr. Pinson's complaint.

This matter comes before the Court on the DOJ's motion to dismiss or for summary judgment on Mr. Pinson's two FOIA claims against the United States Marshals Service (" USMS" ). See Def.'s Mot. Dismiss Summ. J., Mar. 26, 2014, ECF No. 66. The DOJ argues that it is entitled to summary judgment on Mr. Pinson's first claim because he failed to exhaust his administrative remedies before bringing this lawsuit. See Def.'s Mem. Supp. Dismiss Summ. J. 5-7, ECF No. 66-2. On the second claim, the DOJ argues it is entitled to summary judgment because a third party's signature on a requisite form is inauthentic, and that therefore responsive records are exempt from disclosure under exemption 7(C) of the Privacy Act. See id. at 7-9.

For the reasons explained below, the Court grants the DOJ's motion for summary judgment as to Mr. Pinson's first claim, but denies the DOJ's motion for summary judgment as to the second.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

A. Request No. 2012USMS21333

On July 31, 2012, Mr. Pinson submitted FOIA Request No. 2012USMS21333 to the USMS for all information it maintains on Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin. See Bordley Decl. ¶ 2, ECF No. 66-3; Pinson Decl. ¶ 2, ECF No. 78. Mr. Pinson did not submit a DOJ Form 361, titled " Certification of Identity," signed by Mr. Al-Amin as part of this request. See Bordley Decl. ¶ 3; Pinson Decl. ¶ 4. After receiving the request, the USMS advised Mr. Pinson that it would close out the request until the USMS received Mr. Al-Amin's signed form. See Bordley Decl. ¶ ¶ 2-3. The USMS further advised Mr. Pinson that he could appeal this determination within 60 days. Id.

According to the USMS's records, Mr. Pinson never appealed its determination. Id. Mr. Pinson does not dispute this in either his response to the DOJ's motion or in his supporting declaration. See Pl.'s Resp. Def.'s Mot. Dismiss Summ. J. 1-2, ECF No. 78; Pinson Decl.

B. Request No. 2012USMS21692[1]

By letter dated September 2, 2012, Mr. Pinson submitted FOIA Request No. 2012USMS21692 to the USMS for the " production of all information maintained . . . on Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin." See Bordley Decl. ¶ 5; Bordley Decl. Ex. B; Pinson Decl. ¶ 4. The USMS received the request on September 12, 2012. See Bordley Decl. ¶ 5. This second request included a DOJ Form 361 purportedly signed by Mr. Al-Amin (" Certification" ). See Bordley Decl. ¶ 6; Pinson Decl. ¶ 4. The USMS examined the Certification and became concerned that Mr. Al-Amin's signature was ...


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