United States District Court, District of Columbia
Richard J. Leon, Judge
a federal prisoner proceeding pro se, challenges the
response of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys
("EOUSA") to his request under the Freedom of
Information Act ("FOIA"), 5 U.S.C. § 552, for
certain grand jury information pertaining to his earlier
criminal case in the Eastern District of Virginia. EOUSA has
released responsive records and has moved for summary
judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. For the reasons explained
below, the motion will be GRANTED.
in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of
Virginia convicted plaintiff of multiple counts of conspiracy
to interfere and interference with commerce by violence and
use of a firearm during the commission of a crime of
violence. See United States v. Burwell, 162
F.App'x 203, 204 (4th Cir. 2006) (per curiam).
December 2, 2014, plaintiff submitted a FOIA request to
EOUSA, specifically seeking:
five pieces of information regarding the grand jury
proceedings in my case: 1) the name of the District Court
judge in the Eastern District of Virginia who summoned the
Second Superceding Indictment grand jury in my criminal case;
2) the date the Second Superceding Indictment grand jury
convened; 3) the date the Second Superceding Indictment was
returned from the grand jury; 4) the date the grand jury was
discharged on the Second Superceding Indictment; 5) A copy of
the legal and public Second Superceding Indictment that was
returned from the grand jury in my name.
Decl. of Vinay J. Jolly, Ex. A [Dkt. # 11-3]. In November
2015, Paralegal Specialist Ann S. Helms initiated a search
for responsive records in the U.S. Attorney's Office for
the Eastern District of Virginia. Helms searched the Legal
Information Office Network System (LIONS), which is the
"case management database that allows each [U.S.
Attorney's Office] to maintain, track, and report
information on their workload, " and located an archived
file. Helms Decl. ¶ 3 [Dkt. # 11-4]. Upon retrieving
plaintiffs archived file, Helms "physically review[ed]
each document" for responsive information. She located a
copy of the requested Second Superseding Indictment but
"was unable to locate the other requested grand jury
information." Id. ¶ 4.
plaintiff filed this civil action on September 17, 2015. On
January 7, 2016, EOUSA released the Second Superseding
Indictment [Dkt. # 17-1], which consists of six pages. EOUSA
released five pages completely. It redacted the names of the
prosecuting attorney and the grand jury foreperson from one
page pursuant to FOIA exemptions 6 and 7(C), codified in 5
U.S.C. § 552(b), and Privacy Act exemption (j)(2),
codified in 5 U.S.C. § 552a. See Jolly Decl.
¶¶ 17-19 & Ex. F.
Court will grant summary judgment "if the movant shows
that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and
the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). 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 (D.C. Cir. 2001)
(quoting Goland v. CIA, 607 F.2d 339, 352 (D.C. Cir.
1978) (alteration in original)). As "employed under
FOIA, " an individual may access "records written
or transcribed to perpetuate knowledge or events."
Hudgins v. IRS, 620 F.Supp. 19, 21 (D.D.C. 1985),
affd, 808 F.2d 137 (D.C. Cir. 1987) (internal
quotation marks and citations omitted). "Therefore, FOIA
neither requires an agency to answer questions disguised as a
FOIA request, ... or to create documents or opinions in
response to an individual's request for
information." Id. (citations omitted).
judgment may be granted solely on information provided in an
agency's supporting affidavits or declarations if they
are relatively detailed, describe "the documents and the
justifications for nondisclosure with reasonably specific
detail, . . . and are not controverted by either contrary
evidence in the record [or] by evidence of agency bad
faith." Military Audit Project v. Casey, 656
F.2d 724, 738 (D.C. Cir. 1981). "To successfully
challenge an agency's showing that it complied with the
FOIA, the plaintiff must come forward with 'specific
facts' demonstrating that there is a genuine issue with
respect to whether the agency has improperly withheld . . .
agency records." Span v. U.S. Dep't of
Justice, 696 F.Supp.2d 113, 119 (D.D.C. 2010) (quoting
U.S. Dep't of Justice v. Tax Analysts, 492 U.S.
136, 142 (1989)).
asserts that summary judgment is inappropriate as to (1)
EOUSA's denial of records under the Privacy Act, (2)
EOUSA's search for responsive records, and (3)
EOUSA's withholding of third-party names. He is mistaken.