United States District Court, District of Columbia
ELLEN SEGAL HUVELLE, District Judge.
Plaintiff Marty Lorenzo Wright brings this action against the United States Department of Justice, alleging that the Executive Office for United States Attorneys ("EOUSA") violated the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552 et seq. ("FOIA"), by failing to conduct a search for documents responsive to his FOIA request. (Compl. [ECF No. 2] ("Compl.") ¶ 9.) Before this Court are defendant's motion for summary judgment and plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment. (Mem. of P. & A. in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J. [ECF No. 10] ("Def.'s Mot."); Pl.'s Mem. of P. & A. in Opp. to Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J., and in Supp. of Pl.'s Cross-Mot. for Summ. J. [ECF No. 12-1] ("Pl.'s Opp.").) For the reasons stated herein, defendant's motion will be denied and plaintiff's motion will be denied without prejudice.
I. PLAINTIFF'S CONVICTION
In March 1997, plaintiff was found guilty on numerous charges related to a drug trafficking conspiracy, including operating a continuing criminal enterprise. See United States v. Wright, 155 F.3d 564 (4th Cir. 1998) (per curiam). Sixty-three witnesses testified for the government at trial, many of whom testified about their own criminal activities. ( See Def.'s Mot. at 1-3.) Defendant explains that "at least five individuals who testified against [plaintiff] did so by agreement with the government." ( Id. at 3.)
II. PLAINTIFF'S FIRST FOIA REQUEST
On May 30, 2013, plaintiff made a FOIA request to the United States Attorney's Office in Virginia for the following information:
1. Names of all individuals granted Immunity in the case of United States v. Marty Lorenzo Wright....
2. Copies of Immunity letters issued in... United States v. Marty Lorenzo Wright.
3. Names of Agents, Prosecutor, and/or Judge who issued and signed the Immunity Agreements in the case of United States v. Marty Lorenzo Wright....
(Def.'s Mot, Ex. A [ECF No. 10-2].) The EOUSA, responding on behalf of the United States Attorney's Office, denied plaintiff's request, stating:
It is the policy of the Execute Office neither to confirm nor deny that records concerning living third parties exist. Further, any release to you of such records, if they do exist, would be in violation of the Privacy Act. 5 U.S.C. § 552a. The requested material would also be exempt from release pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(6) and/or (b)(7)(C) which pertain to records whose disclosure would result in an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.
(Def.'s Mot., Ex. B [ECF No. 10-2].) The Office of Information Policy denied plaintiff's subsequent appeal, explaining:
To the extent that responsive records exist, without consent, proof of death, official acknowledgment of an investigation, or an overriding public interest, disclosure of law enforcement records concerning an individual could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. Because any records responsive to your request would be categorically exempt from disclosure, ...