United States District Court, D. Columbia
DARNELL FOWLKES, Plaintiff, Pro se, BALTIMORE, MD.
BUREAU OF ATF, EXECUTIVE OFFICE FOR UNITED STATES ATTORNEY,
Defendants: Rafique Omar Anderson, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S.
ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Civil Division, Washington, DC; Carl
Ezekiel Ross, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Washington, DC.
CONTRERAS, United States District Judge.
matter is before the Court on Defendant's Second Renewed
Motion for Summary Judgment. For the reasons discussed
below, the motion will be granted in part and denied in part.
brings this action under the Freedom of Information Act
(" FOIA" ), see 5 U.S.C. § 552,
seeking records maintained by three components of the United
States Department of Justice: the Executive Office for United
States Attorneys (" EOUSA" ), the Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (" BATFE"
), and the Drug Enforcement Administration (" DEA"
). See generally Am. Compl. for Declaratory and
Injunctive Relief (" Am. Compl." ) at 2-8. The
Court granted in part and denied in part Defendant's
Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment, and remaining for
resolution are five issues: (1) whether EOUSA conducted a
reasonable search for records responsive to Request No.
12-1689; (2) whether BATFE justified its decision to withhold
firearms trace information under Exemption 3; (3) whether
EOUSA justified its decision to withhold the name of a judge;
(4) whether BATFE justified its decision to withhold
information under Exemption 7(E); and (5) whether defendants
have released all reasonably segregable information.
See Fowlkes v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,
Firearms & Explosives, 67 F.Supp.3d 290, 307 (D.D.C.
Summary Judgment in a FOIA Case
FOIA cases typically and appropriately are decided on motions
for summary judgment." Defenders of Wildlife v. U.S.
Border Patrol, 623 F.Supp.2d 83, 87 (D.D.C. 2009)
(citation omitted). Courts will grant summary judgment to an
agency as the movant if it shows that there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and if the agency is entitled
to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). More
specifically, in a FOIA action to compel production of agency
records, the agency " is entitled to summary judgment if
no material facts are in dispute and if it demonstrates
'that each document that falls within the class requested
either has been produced . . . or is wholly exempt from the
[FOIA's] inspection requirements.'" Students
Against Genocide v. Dep't of State, 257 F.3d 828,
833, 347 U.S.App.D.C. 235 (D.C. Cir. 2001) (quoting
Goland v. CIA, 607 F.2d 339, 352, 197 U.S.App.D.C.
25 (D.C. Cir. 1978)).
The EOUSA's Search for Records Responsive to FOIA No.
The adequacy of an agency's search is measured by a
standard of reasonableness and is dependent upon the
circumstances of the case." Weisberg v. Dep't of
Justice, 705 F.2d 1344, 1351, 227 U.S.App.D.C. 253 (D.C.
Cir. 1983) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).
An agency " fulfills its obligations under FOIA if it
can demonstrate beyond material doubt that its search was
reasonably calculated to uncover all relevant
documents." Ancient Coin Collectors Guild v. U.S.
Dep't of State, 641 F.3d 504, 514, 395 U.S.App.D.C.
138 (D.C. Cir. 2011) (internal quotation marks and citations
omitted). A search need not be exhaustive. See
Miller v. U.S. Dep't of State, 779 F.2d 1378,
1383 (8th Cir. 1995). As long as the agency conducts a
reasonable search, it fulfills its obligations under the FOIA
even if the search yields no responsive records. See
Iturralde v. Comptroller of the Currency, 315 F.3d
311, 315, 354 U.S.App.D.C. 230 (D.C. Cir. 2003) (stating that
" the failure of an agency to turn up one specific
document in its search does not alone render a search
its burden, the agency may submit affidavits or declarations
that explain in reasonable detail the scope and method of its
search. Perry v. Block, 684 F.2d 121, 126, 221
U.S.App.D.C. 347 (D.C. Cir. 1982). In the absence of contrary
evidence, such affidavits or declarations are sufficient to
demonstrate an agency's compliance with the FOIA.
Id. at 127. If, on the other hand, the record "
leaves substantial doubt as to the sufficiency of the search,
[then] summary judgment for the agency is not proper."
Truitt v. Dep't of State, 897 F.2d 540, 542, 283
U.S.App.D.C. 86 (D.C. Cir. 1990); see also
Valencia-Lucena v. U.S. Coast Guard, 180 F.3d 321,
326, 336 U.S.App.D.C. 386 (D.C. Cir. 1999).
relevant part, Request No. 12-1689 stated:
I'm requesting a copy of the indictment and or complaint
and arrest warrant with attached affidavits filed on May 5,
2009 as to case 1:09-CR-00244-CCB in the United States
District Court for the District of Maryland[,] Northern
Division[, including] but not limited to those items. Please
confirm or deny the existence of those items named.
Mem. of P. & A. in Support of Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J.,
(" Defs.' First Mem." ), Decl. of David
Luczynski (" First Luczynski Decl." ), Ex. A
(Freedom of Information and Privacy Act Request dated March
declarant explains that a Paralegal Specialist at the United
States Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland
(" USAO/DMD" ) searched the office's files
" for the indictment and/or complaint and arrest warrant
with attachments in Criminal No. CCB-09-0244[.]" Mem. of
P. & A. in Support of Defs.' Second Renewed Mot. for
Summ. J. (" Defs' 2d Renewed Mem." ), Ex. 1
(Decl. of David Luczynski Addressing Issues Raised in
Court's Memorandum Opinion) (" 4th Luczynski
Decl." ), Attach. A (" Hart Decl." ) ¶ 4.
She used " [t]he LIONS system, . . . the computer system
used by United States Attorney's Offices to track cases
and retrieve files pertaining to cases and
investigations." Hart Decl. ¶ 6. Through LIONS, she
explains, the user accesses databases from which to "
retrieve information based on a defendant's name, the
USAO number (United States Attorney's Office's
internal administrative number), the Assistant United States
Attorney assigned to the case, and the district court case