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Pinson v. U.S. Department of Justice

United States District Court, District of Columbia

May 23, 2018

JEREMY PINSON, Plaintiff,
v.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION, DENYING DEFENDANTS' RENEWED MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT RE DOCUMENT NOS.: 409, 412

          RUDOLPH CONTRERAS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Pro se Plaintiff Jeremy Pinson has filed multiple Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552, requests with various components of the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”). At issue here are two requests she[1] submitted to the Executive Office of the United States Attorneys (“EOUSA”). Pinson has challenged EOUSA's prior responses to these requests, but she has not challenged the latest response. This Court has already granted in part and denied in part three motions for summary judgment concerning her requests. See generally Pinson v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, 145 F.Supp.3d 1 (D.D.C. 2015); Pinson v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, 189 F.Supp.3d 137 (D.D.C. 2016); Pinson v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, No. 12-cv-1872, 2017 WL 6887041 (D.D.C. Aug. 31, 2017).

         Now before the Court are DOJ's renewed motions for summary judgment as to two of Pinson's remaining FOIA requests. Defs.' Renewed Mot. Summ. J. (“Defs.' MSJ (409)”), ECF No. 409; Defs.' Renewed Mot. Summ. J. (“Defs.' MSJ (412)”), ECF No. 412. For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies both motions for summary judgment.

         II. BACKGROUND

         The Court has explained the factual background of this case in detail in its prior Memorandum Opinions. See Pinson, 145 F.Supp.3d at 5-7; Pinson, 189 F.Supp.3d at 141-45; Pinson, 2017 WL 6887041, at *1-7. The Court therefore confines its discussion to the facts most relevant to the two requests at issue in the present motion.

         A. Request No. 13-1085

         Pinson submitted a FOIA request seeking, inter alia, “copies of all discovery material” in the case of United States v. Garcia, No. 11-cr-68-EJL, in the District of Idaho. Luczynski Decl. (Oct. 20, 2016), Ex. I, ECF No. 332-3. Pinson limited her request to “no more than 150 pages . . . and no more than 2 hours search time.” Id. After EOUSA informed Pinson that it could not release the information because such third-party information was protected, Pinson limited the scope of her request to “seek only public records.” Luczynski Decl. (Feb. 23, 2015), Ex. UUU, ECF No. 170-5; see also Luczynski Decl. (Feb. 23, 2015) ¶¶ 82-83, ECF No. 170-4.

         After this Court denied DOJ's third motion for summary judgment, [2] EOUSA submitted with its renewed motion a declaration from the FOIA contact who conducted the search for Pinson's requested materials. See Narkin Decl. (Oct. 24, 2017), ECF No. 409-3. Legal Administrative Specialist Narkin conducted the search using Courtlink, LexisNexis's docket research tool, and retrieved the docket for United States v. Apodaca, in which two of the eleven co-defendants had the surname Garcia. See Id. ¶ 9. After searching for two hours and limiting results to only public records, Narkin located 949 pages related to the Apodaca case. Id. ¶ 10. DOJ claims that all 949 pages relating to Pinson's request for materials concerning the 11-cr-68 case were released. Defs.' Statement of Material Facts (“Defs.' SMF (409)”) ¶ 6, ECF No. 409-2. However, the materials DOJ submitted with its renewed motion indicate that 949 pages relating to a case with the docket number 12-cr-236 were released. Luczynski Decl. (Dec. 13, 2017) at 2 & Ex. A, ECF No. 409-4. DOJ again moves for summary judgment, this time on the basis that Pinson has received the materials she requested. See Mem. P. & A. Supp. Defs.' MSJ (“Defs.' Mem. (409)”) at 3, ECF No. 409-1. Pinson did not submit an opposition to the motion.

         B. Request No. 12-1757

         In a letter dated February 26, 2012, Ms. Pinson requested the “production of all documents, email, or records” for, inter alia, cases 10-cv-949 and 11-cv-1906. Luczynski Decl. (Dec. 11, 2015), Ex. Y, ECF No. 254-4. Pinson did not explicitly limit the number of pages to be produced or the search time to be occupied by this request. See Id. She did later clarify that this request also sought public records, but was not limited to them. Luczynski Decl. (Dec. 11, 2015), Ex. T, ECF No. 254-4.

         After this Court denied DOJ's third motion for summary judgment, [3] EOUSA submitted with its renewed motion an updated declaration from the FOIA contact who conducted the search for the materials Pinson requested. Matuszewski Decl. (Dec. 20, 2017) ¶ 15, ECF No. 412-3. Matuszewski's updated declaration repeats information from her original declaration regarding all the records systems that were searched, why those systems were likely to contain all responsive records, and the amount of material produced. Compare Matuszewski Decl. (Dec. 20, 2017) with Matuszewski Decl. (Oct. 12, 2016), ECF No. 332-3. Additionally, Matuszewski declares that she searched the computerized docketing case management system Caseview using the terms “Jeremy Pinson” and civil case file numbers 11-cv-1906, 11-cv-1346, and 10-cv-949 to produce 197 pages of responsive material. See Matuszewski Decl. (Dec. 20, 2017) ¶¶ 16, 18- 20. She maintains that “all documents” found were forwarded to EOUSA. See Id. ¶¶ 18-19. DOJ again moves for summary judgment, contending that Matuszewski's updated declaration sufficiently demonstrates that EOUSA's search was reasonably calculated to locate all responsive documents, and that all such responsive documents were released. See Mem. P. & A. Supp. Defs.' MSJ (“Defs.' Mem. (412)”) at 5, ECF No. 412-2. Pinson has not opposed this motion either.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         “[T]o prevail in a Freedom of Information Act suit, ‘the defending agency must prove that each document that falls within the class requested either has been produced, is unidentifiable or is wholly exempt from the Act's inspection requirements.'” Weisberg v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, 627 F.2d 365, 368 (D.C. Cir. 1980) (quoting Nat'l Cable Television Ass'n v. FCC, 479 F.2d 183, 186 (D.C. Cir. 1973)). At the summary judgment stage, the agency does this by showing “that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact.” ...


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