Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Burwell v. Executive Office for United States Attorneys

United States District Court, District of Columbia

September 28, 2016

GREGORY WAYNE BURWELL, Plaintiff,
v.
EXECUTIVE OFFICE FOR UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Richard J. Leon, Judge

         Plaintiff, 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.

         BACKGROUND

         A jury 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).

         On 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.

         Meanwhile, 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.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         The 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).

         Summary 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)).

         ANALYSIS

         Plaintiff 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.

         1. Th ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.