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Lockett v. Wray

United States District Court, District of Columbia

September 25, 2017

RODNEY EUGENE LOCKETT, Plaintiff,
v.
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, [1]Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          RUDOLPH CONTRERAS United States District Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff, appearing pro se, challenges the Federal Bureau of Investigation's response to his request under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552, for records contained in the Combined DNA Index System (“CODIS”) pertaining to him. Defendant has moved for summary judgment, asserting first that plaintiff failed to provide sufficient information to enable a search and second that any responsive records would be exempt from disclosure under FOIA Exemption 3. Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No. 14. Plaintiff has moved for partial summary judgment on claims related to his criminal prosecution, which are beyond this Court's jurisdiction. Pl.'s Mot. for Partial Summ. J., ECF No. 13. For the reasons explained below, the Court will grant defendant's motion, deny plaintiff's motion, and enter judgment accordingly.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is a Florida state prisoner serving thirteen consecutive life sentences. Compl. at 1. In a letter dated August 6, 2013, and addressed to the Department of Justice's (“DOJ”) Criminal Division, plaintiff requested:

access to files, records, data, and DNA profiles entered in [CODIS] of evidence submitted to your agency from the following agencies and case numbers:
1. DNA profiles from specimens collected in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Laboratory Number: 85-0230722
2. St. Petersburg, Florida Police Department Agency Number: 85-18723, and
3. State v. Rodney Lockett, Case Number: CRC 85-02110CFANO, Sixth Judicial Circuit Court, Pinellas County, Florida, City of Clearwater, Florida.

Ex. A to Decl. of David M. Hardy, ECF No. 14-1. The Criminal Division informed plaintiff on August 30, 2013, that his “misdirected request has been routed to the FBI for processing and a direct response to you.” Ex. B.

         In a letter dated September 24, 2013, the FBI denied plaintiff's request under FOIA Exemption 3 upon determining from “the information . . . provided [in the] request” that none of the four statutory circumstances under which CODIS information could be released was present. Ex. F to Hardy Decl. (citing 42 U.S.C. § 14132). DOJ's Office of Information Policy affirmed the FBI's decision by letter dated December 2, 2013, noting that “the FBI did not conduct a search for the requested records because if any such records exist, they would be exempt from disclosure.” Ex. I at 1.

         In the instant Complaint filed in July 2016, plaintiff “seeks disclosure of information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), ” Compl. at 1, and “an order directing the Defendant to disclose whether state's Exhibit 2b [in the criminal case], a vaginal slide taken from one of the victims . . ., was ever submitted to the FBI for purposes of CODIS identification;” and “[t]he identification obtained from State's Exhibit 2b under CODIS, ” Compl. at 3.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         The FOIA confers jurisdiction in the district court to enjoin an agency from improperly withholding records maintained or controlled by the agency. See 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(B); McGehee v. CIA, 697 F.2d 1095, 1105 (D.C. Cir. 1983) (quoting Kissinger v. Reporters Comm. for Freedom of the Press, 445 U.S. 136, 150 (1980)). An agency's disclosure obligation is triggered by its receipt of a request that “reasonably describes” the records sought and “is made in accordance with [the agency's] published rules stating the time, place, fees (if any), and procedures to follow.” 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(3)(A); see Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington v. FEC, 711 ...


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