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Jackson v. Executive Office for United States Attorneys

United States District Court, District of Columbia

March 5, 2019

DURRELL K. JACKSON, Plaintiff,
v.
EXECUTIVE OFFICE FOR UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Trevor N. McFadden United States District Judge

         Durrell K. Jackson filed this case under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) to obtain records maintained by the Executive Office for United States Attorneys (“EOUSA”). EOUSA has moved for summary judgment. See ECF No. 14. For the reasons discussed below, the Court will grant the motion.[1]

         I. BACKGROUND

         In January 2015, Mr. Jackson submitted a FOIA request to EOUSA for information relating to his criminal case in the Northern District of Iowa. He sought:

1. [A]ll search warrants, evidence and any misc. items in relations to package that . . . went to Waterloo, Iowa, at approximately 10:07am on June 29, 2000 with package tracking no. 10897-1870110001107. All evidence include search warrant(s), record(s) (official and/or unofficial), memorandum(s), jencks [sic] material(s), note(s), electronic messages & bulletin board(s), telephonic recording(s), any telecommunication(s) (oral and/or written), witnesse(es) [sic], computer(s) and all attachment internal & external in relation to computers, e.g., harddrives, thumbdrives, floppy disk(s), etc., internet and/or intranet.
2. All information requested above pertaining to search warrants, are not limited to (State District Attorney(s) and U.S. Attorney(s). The evidence are [sic] requested to Agencies, Co-Agencies, corporations, companies, partnerships, and anyone associated to this case pertaining to search warrant mentioned above.
3. Any evidence and/or attachments issued on or about June 29-30, 2000, related to UPS parcel no. 1 0897-1 870110001107, also affidavit sworn by UPS business manager Timothy Jochium . . . .

Smith Decl., Ex. 1 at 1.[2] EOUSA assigned the matter a tracking number and forwarded the request to the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Iowa (“USAO”). Smith Decl. ¶ 4.

         Debra Nash, the USAO's FOIA Coordinator, found files for Mr. Jackson's criminal case and a related civil case. Id. ¶ 5. Although she did not locate the search warrant itself, Ms. Nash found “Government Exhibit 10, which consisted of subsidiary exhibits [10A through 10G] comprising the UPS package, contents, and related documents.” Id. ¶ 5.b. She also found “a facsimile transmission from an Iowa state drug task force [containing] a laboratory receipt and laboratory report for cocaine shipped inside the UPS package.” Id. ¶ 5.c.

         The responsive records totaled 93 pages, 38 of which were “copies of public court records maintained in the USAO criminal case file.” Id. ¶ 6. Of the remaining 55 pages, 49 were photocopies of Government Exhibit 10, four were the fax described above, and two were the “affidavit of a UPS employee that is a duplicate of a part of Government Exhibit 10G.” Id. Ms. Nash sent these 93 pages to EOUSA. Id. ¶ 5.

         Mr. Jackson's criminal case was investigated and prosecuted by the USAO and other federal, state, and local law enforcement organizations as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program. Id. ¶ 8. EOUSA referred the non-public pages of records to OCDETF. The Task Force returned the records to EOUSA when it determined that they “were USAO records rather than OCDETF records.” Id. ¶¶ 9, 17.

         EOUSA then sent Mr. Jackson 91 of the 93 responsive pages. Id. ¶ 19. The production included 38 pages of public records. Id. EOUSA released 43 of the remaining pages in full, released 10 pages in part, and withheld two pages in full because they were duplicates of the pages released in part. Id. The agency relied on FOIA Exemptions 6 and 7(C) to redact personally identifying information about third parties from the 10 partially released pages. Supp. Smith Decl. ¶ 1.[3]

         II. DISCUSSION

         Courts typically resolve FOIA cases on motions for summary judgment. See Brayton v. Office of the U.S. Trade Rep., 641 F.3d 521, 527 (D.C. Cir. 2011). Summary judgment is appropriate 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 case, the agency must show that there is no genuine issue of material fact about its compliance with FOIA's requirements. See Steinberg v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, 23 F.3d 548, 551 (D.C. Cir. 1994). An agency may prevail based only on a supporting declaration. Valencia-Lucena v. U.S. Coast Guard, 180 F.3d 321, 326 (D.C. Cir. 1999). To do so, the agency must “describe the documents and the justifications for nondisclosure with reasonably specific detail, demonstrate that the information withheld logically falls within the ...


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