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Hall v. Federal Bureau of Prisons

United States District Court, D. Columbia

September 25, 2015

VIRGIL HALL, Plaintiff,
v.
FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS, et al., Defendants

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 62

          VIRGIL HALL, Plaintiff, Pro se, LORETTO, PA.

         For U.S. BUREAU OF PRISONS, U.S. MARSHAL SERVICE, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL OFFICE, Defendants: Jodi George, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Washington, DC.

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         MEMORANDUM OPINION

         REGGIE B. WALTON, United States District Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. For the reasons discussed below, the motion will be granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In the United States District Court for the District of Utah, the plaintiff was indicted, tried and found guilty of one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Complaint (" Compl." ) at 2. That court imposed a sentence of 120 months' incarceration, id., and the plaintiff currently has been designated to serve his sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Loretto, Pennsylvania, id. at 1.

         The plaintiff brings this civil action under the Freedom of Information Act (" FOIA" ), see 5 U.S.C. § 552, and the Privacy Act, see 5 U.S.C. § 552a. He alleges that the Federal Bureau of Prisons (" BOP" ), the United States Marshals Service (" USMS" ) and the Executive Office for United States Attorneys (" EOUSA" ) violated the FOIA by failing to respond to his requests for copies of his criminal indictment and judgment and commitment order (" J& C" ) bearing the appropriate signatures and court seals. See Compl. at 3-4. Further, he alleges that the defendants violated the Privacy Act by making adverse determinations " to hold, try and imprison [him]," id. at 3, based on an indictment and J& C he deems incomplete, inaccurate or incorrect, see id. at 3-4. He demands damages of $1,000. Id. at 4.

         A. Requests Submitted to the Federal Bureau of Prisons

         The plaintiff submitted two requests under the FOIA and the Privacy Act to the BOP. Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Defendants' Motion for

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Summary Judgment (" Defs.' Mem." ), Declaration of Donna Johnson (" Johnson Decl." ) ¶ 2. First, the plaintiff sought " Page[s] 1 and 2 only of the original certified Judgment & return showing commitment executed by U.S. Marshal or his deputy." Johnson Decl., Ex. A (Freedom of Information Act & Privacy Act Request Number (" No." ) 2014-09029 dated February 10, 2014) at 1. His second request sought the same information. Id., Ex. B (Freedom of Information Act & Privacy Act Request Number 2014-09030 dated March 18, 2014). Although the plaintiff claimed that no such document existed, by " asking to correct the records," id., Ex. A (Attachment to Request No. 2014-09029) at 3, BOP staff construed the request as one to " amend[] his judgment and commitment order to bear the signature of a U.S. Marshal's deputy," id. ¶ 2.

         The BOP consolidated the plaintiff's two requests, id. ¶ 4, and denied them based on the following explanation:

Attached to request 2014-09029 are two handwritten pages that illuminate this matter. In the fourth paragraph of the first handwritten page, you state that, " unfortunately, there is no original executed and return of a Judgment & Commitment by a U.S. Marshal . . . ." Essentially, you state that the record you have requested will not be found. In your second handwritten page, you further allege that a properly " certified" judgment does not exist.
Your filing in 2014-09029 plainly shows that you do not request an agency record; you merely complain that a record does not exist. To the extent these request[s] can be construed as Privacy Act requests to amend the judgment and commitment order[], your request is denied. Your Central File documents are exempt from the Privacy Act's amendment, accuracy, notification, and civil remedy provisions.

Id., Ex. C (Letter to plaintiff from Michael D. Tafelski, Regional Counsel, Northeast Regional Office, BOP, dated August 22, 2014) at 1.

         " Judgment and commitment orders relevant to an inmate are maintained in the BOP's Inmate Central Records System." Id. ΒΆ 3. The defendants represent that the BOP located and released a copy of the J& C to the plaintiff ...


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