FOIA Advisor

Court opinions issued Mar. 24-25, 2016

Court Opinions (2015-16)Allan BlutsteinComment

Mar. 25, 2016

Sanchez-Alaniz v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons (D.D.C.) -- concluding that the agency conducted an adequate search, properly withheld information under Exemptions 7(C) and 7(F), and released all reasonably segregable information.  Further, the court found that plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies with respect to one of his requests.

Goldstein v. Treasury Inspector Gen. for Tax Admin. (D.D.C.) -- finding that TIGTA failed to carry its burden of showing that Exemption 7(C) applied to records of investigation of certain IRS employees, but that same records fell within ambit of Exemption 6.   The court found, however, that TIGTA failed to provide sufficient details about the segregability of of records containing return or return information to which plaintiff might be entitled under 26 U.S.C. § 6103.  

Goldstein v. Internal Revenue Serv. (D.D.C.) -- ordering IRS to reprocess seven of ten categories of tax records requested by the heir of father's estate, but finding that agency properly withheld a telephone number under Exemption 6, a Discriminant Function score under Exemption 7(E), and corporate tax returns under 26 U.S.C. § 6103(e)(1)(D).  

Mar. 24, 2016

White v. McDonald (N.D. Okla.) -- dismissing action as moot because the Department of Veterans Affairs had produced all requested records to plaintiff subsequent to the filing of the lawsuit.

Edelman v. Sec. & Exch. Comm'n (D.D.C.) -- granting in part and denying in part the parties' motions for summary judgment concerning various records related to the Empire State Realty Trust, whose property holdings include the Empire State Building.  Of note procedurally, the court dismissed one claim because plaintiff had neglected to appeal the substantive determination issued by the agency upon remand from plaintiff's initial appeal, which merely disputed the lack of a response.  The court acknowledged that "there may be circumstances under which requiring an appeal after an agency remands a case to the processing officer would not further the purposes of the exhaustion requirement.  For instance, where an agency initially responds to a FOIA request on the merits, the requester appeals, and the agency issues the same response on remand, the requester might argue that the purposes of the exhaustion requirement would not be furthered by an additional—and arguably futile—appeal."  Further, the court rejected the agency's determination that the meeting notes of SEC attorneys constituted "personal records" rather than "agency records," employing the D.C. Circuit's "totality of the circumstances" test.  The court found that the SEC conducted reasonable searches and that, with the exception of one document, it had established that Exemption 5 protected certain withheld information.

Summaries of all opinions issued since April 2015 available here.