United States District Court, D. Columbia
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
Pinson, Plaintiff, Pro se, Springfield, MO USA.
U.S. Department of Justice, Charles E. Samuels, Jr., John
Dignam, Defendants: Damon William Taaffe, Theresa Ekeoma
Dike, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Carl Ezekiel Ross, U.S. ATTORNEY'S
OFFICE, Washington, DC USA; Eric Joseph Young, LEAD ATTORNEY,
U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Civil Division, Washington, DC
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, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE,
Washington, DC USA; Eric Joseph Young, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S.
ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Civil Division, Washington, DC USA.
Document No.: 170
in Part and Denying in Part Defendants' Motion for
Partial Summary Judgment
CONTRERAS, United States District Judge.
Pro se Plaintiff Jeremy Pinson is currently an
inmate at ADX Florence, a federal prison located in Colorado.
While in prison, Mr. Pinson has filed multiple Freedom of
Information Act (" FOIA" ), 5 U.S.C. § 552,
requests with different components of the U.S. Department of
Justice (" DOJ" ). On several occasions, DOJ has
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 from disclosure by law. Mr. Pinson took issue with
some of these determinations, so he filed a complaint
claiming that DOJ improperly withheld numerous records from
him in violation of FOIA. In response, DOJ has filed several
pre-answer motions, each asking the Court to dismiss or grant
summary judgment in its favor on different portions of Mr.
before the Court is DOJ's motion for partial summary
judgment as to Mr. Pinson's numerous FOIA claims against
DOJ's Executive Office of the United States Attorneys
(" EOUSA" ). See generally Defs.' Mot.
Partial Summ. J., ECF No. 170. Mr. Pinson claims that the
EOUSA responded to 21 numbered FOIA requests that he
submitted between 2010 and 2013, but that it unlawfully
" refused to produce records" corresponding to
those requests. See Corr. 2d Am. Compl. at 10-11,
ECF No. 32. Mr. Pinson further claims that the EOUSA failed
to respond to 21 unnumbered FOIA requests during the same
time period. See id. at 11-12. DOJ's
motion for partial summary judgment addresses 18 of the
numbered claims and all 21 unnumbered claims, and
argues: (1) as to the 21 unnumbered requests, that there is
no record of Mr. Pinson having properly submitted them; (2)
as to 15 of the numbered requests, that Mr. Pinson failed to
exhaust his administrative remedies; and (3) as to the
remaining three requests (and in the alternative for the 15
requests for which DOJ claims Mr. Pinson failed to exhaust
his administrative remedies), that the EOUSA responded in
accordance with FOIA by conducting an adequate search for
responsive documents and releasing any non-exempt information
to Mr. Pinson. See generally Defs.' Mem. Supp.
Mot. for Partial Summ. J., ECF No. 170-1 (hereinafter "
Defs.' Mem. Supp." ).
reasons stated below, the Court will grant in part and deny
in part DOJ's motion for partial summary judgment.
Request Nos. 12-1757, 12-1758, and 12-1760
February 26, 2012, Mr. Pinson submitted a FOIA request for
the " production of all documents, emails, or
records" for ten different cases, identified by case
number, litigated by six different U.S. Attorneys'
Offices. Luczynski Decl. ¶ 41, ECF No. 170-4. The EOUSA
split this request into several separate requests, each of
which dealt with a separate U.S. Attorney's Office.
See Luczynski Decl. ¶ ¶ 43, 46, 51;
see also DOJ's Exs. KK, NN, TT, ECF No. 170-5.
At issue in this memorandum are Request No. 12-1757
(requesting information regarding three cases from the Middle
District of Pennsylvania), Request No. 12-1758 (requesting
information regarding three cases from the Eastern District
of Kentucky), and Request No. 12-1760 (requesting information
regarding one case from the Northern District of West
Virginia). The EOUSA sent Mr. Pinson a letter acknowledging
these requests on May 23, 2012, see Luczynski Decl.
¶ 42, but did not respond to the requests until sixteen
months later, and only after Mr. Pinson had filed his initial
complaint on November 15, 2012, see Compl., ECF No.
1. On September 25, 2013, the EOUSA informed Mr. Pinson that
the documents responsive to each of these requests contained
information concerning third parties, invoking the Privacy
Act and FOIA Exemptions 6 and 7(C). See DOJ's
EXs. KK, OO, TT. The agency explained that such information
generally cannot be released absent express authorization or
consent of the third party, proof that the subject of the
request is deceased, or a clear demonstration that the public
interest in disclosure outweighs the third party's
personal privacy interest. See Luczynski Decl.
¶ ¶ 43, 46, 51. Mr. Pinson appealed those
determinations on October 31, 2013, id. at ¶
¶ 44, 48, 54, after he had already filed his Second
Amended Complaint on October 23, 2013, claiming that the
EOUSA improperly refused to produce these records,
see Corr. 2d Am. Compl. at 10.
Request Nos. 12-1748 and 12-1752
February 22, 2012, Mr. Pinson submitted a request for the
" production of all documents, emails, or records
located in the U.S. Attorney's Office related to"
the litigation of a number of cases in the Northern District
of Alabama, Eastern District of Virginia, Southern District
of California, and the Central District of California.
Luczynski Decl. ¶ 26. The EOUSA acknowledged the request
on May 23, 2012, id. ¶ 26, and split it into
four separate requests.
EOUSA assigned the request for records from the Northern
District of Alabama Request No. 12-1748, id. ¶
27, but otherwise did not respond before Mr. Pinson filed his
initial complaint. The EOUSA did eventually
respond on September 25, 2013, informing Mr. Pinson that its
search had revealed no responsive records. Id.
¶ 28. Mr. Pinson filed an administrative appeal on
October 31, 2013. Id. ¶ 29. Again, Mr.
Pinson's appeal was filed only after he had filed his
Second Amended Complaint in this Court.
request for records from the Southern District of California
was assigned Request No. 12-1752. See DOJ's Ex.
GG. On July 20, 2012, the EOUSA informed Mr. Pinson that its
search for records in the United States Attorney's Office
for the Southern District of California had identified no
responsive records. Luczynski Decl. ¶ 40. Mr. Pinson has
not filed an appeal regarding this request. Id.
Request No. 12-3947
August 10, 2012, Mr. Pinson submitted a FOIA request for
information concerning several federal cases involving a
number of third parties filed in the Northern District of
Georgia, the District of Colorado, the Tenth Circuit, the
District for the District of Columbia, and the Central
District of California. See Luczynski Decl. ¶
79; DOJ's Ex. QQQ. On September 28, 2012, the EOUSA
notified Mr. Pinson that it had denied the request in full,
citing the Privacy Act and FOIA Exemptions 6 and 7(C).
See id. ¶ 80; DOJ's Ex. RRR. Mr. Pinson has
not filed an appeal of this determination. See id.
Request No. 13-1085
letter dated March 19, 2013, Mr. Pinson submitted a FOIA
request for discovery material concerning the federal
criminal cases of third parties named Garcia and Espudo.
Luczynski Decl. ¶ 81; DOJ's Ex. SSS. In response to
this request, the EOUSA informed Mr. Pinson that it would not
release the information because such third party information
was protected under the Privacy Act and FOIA Exemptions 6 and
7(C). See Luczynski Decl. ¶ 82; DOJ's Ex.
TTT. Mr. Pinson thereafter agreed to limit the scope of his
request to solely public records. See Luczynski
Decl. ¶ 83. On December 12, 2013, the EOUSA released 100
pages of public records pertaining to his request free of
charge and, upon learning that the records had not been
received, sent the documents to Mr. Pinson a second time on
February 11, 2015. Luczynski Decl. ¶ ¶ 84-85. Mr.
Pinson has not filed an appeal. Id. ¶ 85. Mr.
Pinson claims that his counselor at MCF Springfield seized
the records that the EOUSA sent to him on February 11, 2015,
reviewed the records' contents, and refused to provide
them to him. See Pl.'s Resp. at 2-3, ECF No.
223; Pinson Decl. ¶ 2, ECF No. 223 at 11.
Request No. 12-3095
Pinson submitted a FOIA request on January 16, 2012
requesting information regarding four criminal cases in four
federal districts. See Luczynski Decl. ¶ 67.
The EOUSA assigned Request No. 12-3095 to Mr. Pinson's
request for information about Chester v. Unknown BOP
in the Western District of Virginia.Id. ¶
70. The EOUSA informed Mr. Pinson on October 31, 2012 that it
had conducted a search of the U.S. ...