Garcia v. Executive Office for the United States Attorney

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA SANTOS MAXIMINO GARCIA, Plaintiff, v. Civil Action No. 16-cv-94 (JDB) EXECUTIVE OFFICE FOR UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS Defendant. MEMORANDUM OPINION Plaintiff Santos Maximino Garcia, proceeding pro se, brought this action under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552, against defendant, the Executive Office for United States Attorneys (“EOUSA”), Compl. [ECF No. 1] at 1. Plaintiff seeks “disclosure of all information germane to prosecution witness Noe Cruz,” a cooperating witness who testified for the government in Garcia’s federal criminal trial. Id. Asserting that it has satisfied its disclosure obligations under FOIA, EOUSA moved for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Def.’s Mot. for Summ. J. [ECF No. 18] at 1. The Court advised plaintiff of the need to respond to EOUSA’s motion and granted him an extension to file a response. See Oct. 11, 2017 Order [ECF No. 19]. Plaintiff, however, has failed to respond, and his time to do so expired over four months ago. The Court finds that EOUSA’s search for the requested documents was adequate, and that the agencies sufficiently justified withholding responsive documents under the relevant statutory exemptions. Hence, for the reasons explained below, the Court will grant EOUSA’s motion for summary judgment. 1 BACKGROUND On November 16, 2014, plaintiff submitted a request to EOUSA for the release of documents pursuant to FOIA. See Compl. Ex. A. In his request, plaintiff sought the disclosure of “all information germane to prosecution witness Noe Cruz” relating to plaintiff’s criminal case, United States v. Garcia, No. 05-0393 (D. Md. judgment issued May 13, 2009). Id. He claimed that the prosecution “never attempted to ascertain the scope of [Cruz’s] criminal history” and was “deliberately ignorant” as to Cruz’s rape charge, for which he was indicted in 2013, five years after plaintiff’s trial. Compl. at 5. On January 5, 2015, EOUSA notified plaintiff that his request was received. Compl. Ex. B. EOUSA’s response informed plaintiff that records pertaining to a third party generally cannot be released absent (1) “express authorization and consent of the third party,” (2) “proof that the subject of the request is deceased,” or (3) “a clear demonstration that the public interest in disclosure outweighs the third party’s personal privacy interest and that significant public benefit would result from the disclosure of the requested records.” Id. Since plaintiff did not provide a release, death certificate, or public justification for release, EOUSA explained that the release of records concerning Noe Cruz would result in an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. Id. On January 14, 2015, plaintiff appealed EOUSA’s decision to the Office of Information Policy (“OIP”). Compl. Ex. C. He claimed that all documentation involving Cruz should be disclosed, citing the D.C. District Court’s decision in Marino v. Drug Enforcement Administration, 15 F. Supp. 3d 141 (D.D.C. 2014). Id. OIP informed plaintiff on February 10, 2015 that his appeal had been received a week earlier. Compl. Ex. D. On June 30, ...

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