United States District Court, District of Columbia
COLLEEN KOLLAR KOTELLY UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment and to Dismiss, ECF No. 15. For the reasons
discussed below, the Court will grant the
currently is incarcerated at the Parnall Correctional
Facility in Jackson, Michigan. Compl. ¶ 5. He alleges
that “[d]efendant holds Records and Bonds information,
Judgment information and/or Commercial crimes Bonding
Information and/or Case Bonding information and/or commercial
crimes Bonding information Certificate, ” id.
¶ 9, about him, see id. ¶ 10.
the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”),
see 5 U.S.C. § 552, plaintiff submitted a
request for information to the United States Attorney's
Office for the Eastern District of Michigan, and its caption
IDENTIFICATION OF REQUESTER: IN ACCORDANCE WITH 28 CFR Sec.
16.41(d) INFORMATION IN RE: DISCLOSURE OF ALL CRIMINAL BONDS,
BONDING, JUDGMENT NUMBERS, OR OTHERWISE AS REQUESTED, CASE
NO. 08-1329-FH WASHTENAW COUNTY 22ND JUDICIAL CIRCUIT COURT,
ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN & CASE NO. 13-708614
Compl., Ex. A-1 (Letter to Nancy Aishie A. Abraham from
plaintiff dated May 3, 2016) (emphasis in original). The
request made its way to the Executive Office for United
States Attorneys (“EOUSA”), a component of the
United States Department of Justice (“DOJ”).
Id. ¶ 12.
staff construed the request as one for information about two
criminal cases in the Michigan state courts. Mem. of P. &
A. in Support of Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. and to Dismiss
(“Def.'s Mem.”). Decl. of David Luczynski
(“Luczynski Decl.”) ¶ 3. EOUSA's
declarant explained that “DOJ does not prosecute state
cases in Michigan, and [it] was not involved in the cases for
which plaintiff seeks information.” Luczynski Decl.
¶ 4. “Because plaintiff [sought] information about
state (rather than federal) cases, no DOJ system of records
is likely to contain any records sought by plaintiff.”
Id. Nevertheless, EOUSA staff assigned the matter a
tracking number (FOIA-2016-2583) and notified plaintiff that
his request was incomplete because he had “not
provide[d] a notarized example of his signature or a
certification of identity.” Id. ¶ 5.
Plaintiff was instructed to “file a new, corrected FOIA
resubmitted his request, Compl. ¶ 13, and filed an
administrative appeal to the DOJ's Office of Information
Policy (“OIP”) both challenging the EOUSA's
purported delay in responding to his original FOIA request
and requesting expedited processing of the appeal,
id. ¶¶ 13-16; see Luczynski Decl,
Ex. E (Letter to Director of OIP from plaintiff dated July
13, 2016). EOUSA staff assigned the request a tracking number
(FOIA-2016-3203) and notified plaintiff that his second
request was deficient also. Luczynski Decl. ¶ 7.
“[F]iles and records of United States Attorneys are
maintained in over one hundred separate offices throughout
the United States, ” Compl., Ex. C-3 (Letter to
plaintiff from dated July 19, 2016) at 1, and unless
plaintiff identified “the specific United States
Attorney's [O]ffice(s) where he believed the records may
be located, ” the EOUSA would not process his request,
Luczynski Decl. ¶ 7. Plaintiff was instructed to correct
the deficiency and to file a new FOIA request. Id.
Aside from the July 13, 2016 administrative appeal to the
OIP, id. ¶ 9, “DOJ has not received any
further communication from . . . plaintiff, ”
id. ¶ 10.
The EOUSA Complied with the FOIA
Plaintiff Failed to Submit a Proper FOIA Request to the EOUSA
An “agency, upon any request for records which (i)
reasonably describes such records and (ii) is made in
accordance with published rules stating the time, place, fees
(if any), and procedures to be followed, shall make the
records promptly available to any person.” 5 U.S.C.
§ 552(a)(3)(A). “Omitting one of the two threshold
requirements for a proper FOIA request . . . warrants
dismissal.” Lowe v. DEA, No. 06-CV-1133, 2007
WL 2104309, at *5 (D.D.C. July 22, 2007) (citations omitted).
Records are reasonably described “if a professional
employee of the agency familiar with the subject matter can
locate the records with a reasonable amount of effort.”
Armstrong v. Bush, 139 F.R.D. 547, 553 (D.D.C. 1991)
(citations and internal quotation marks omitted). If an
agency's response to a FOIA request calls for “an
unreasonably burdensome search, ” Am. Fed'n of
Gov't Employees, Local 2782 v. U.S. Dep't of
Commerce, 632 F.Supp. 1272, 1278 (D.D.C. 1986) (citing
Goland v. CIA, 607 F.2d 339, 353 (D.C. Cir. 1978)),
the agency need not honor the request.
EOUSA requires that a requester specify the particular United
States Attorney's Office(s) where he believes the desired
information is located. Its declarant explains:
A search of every United States Attorney's office for a
case related to [plaintiff] would be unreasonably burdensome
because each United States Attorney's office handles
record-keeping differently. They vary greatly in size and
number of staff as well as the amount of cases handled. Due
to these variations, larger offices have larger
record-keeping filing systems, or even off site storage,
while smaller offices have dedicated file rooms or cabinets
on the premises. Asking each of the offices, large and small,
to . . . examine each of their files and storage boxes would
be unduly burdensome. In addition, most U.S. Attorney's
offices are understaffed. Accordingly, requesters are
required to ...