The opinion of the court was delivered by: KATHARINE HAYDEN, District Judge
Pro se plaintiff John L. Williams filed an action on July 16,
2004 against the United States Department of Justice Federal
Bureau of Investigation Civil Rights Section and two United
States Attorneys, James B. Comey and Christopher J. Christie
(collectively "defendants"), alleging violations of the Freedom
of Information Act ("FOIA"), 5 U.S.C. § 552, and the Privacy Act,
5 U.S.C. § 552(a). Plaintiff did not address the Privacy Act in
his papers except as a jurisdictional basis in his Complaint.
Defendants filed a motion to dismiss, or, in the alternative, for
summary judgment. In response, plaintiff filed a document titled
"Affidavit in Support of Plaintiff's Cross-motion." The Court has
considered these submissions, and for the following reasons,
grants summary judgment in favor of defendants.
In 1980, plaintiff complained to the Southern District of New
York ("SDNY") about an alleged conspiracy to violate his civil
rights in 1977 and 1978 by transferring him between states in connection with a criminal prosecution. (Compl. at 1, 2, 4.)
This request was forwarded to the Federal Bureau of Investigation
("FBI"). (Compl. at 3, 4.) In 1982, plaintiff wrote to the SDNY
seeking an update to his request. (Compl., Exh. C.) In response,
the Chief of the Civil Rights Unit informed plaintiff by letter
dated March 10, 1982 that his claims did not merit an
investigation. (Compl., Exh. C.) In 1996, plaintiff repeated the
same allegations in a request to the United States Attorney's
Office for the SDNY. (Compl., Exh. C.) Defendants state these
allegations also were not pursued because they were meritless.
(Def. Moving Br. at 1.)
On October 21, 2003, plaintiff made a FOIA request to the SDNY
for investigative records. (Decl. of Luczynski ¶ 4; Freedom of
Information/Privacy Act Request, Exh. A.) Plaintiff specifically
asked for records or information related to "a criminal
investigation and civil rights violations, attached letters of
August 4, 1980, March 10, 1982, and October 10, 1996. . . . ."
(Decl. of Luczynski ¶ 4; Exh. A.) The Executive Office for the
United States Attorney ("EOUSA") acknowledged plaintiff's request
and assigned him FOIA No. 03-3556. (Decl. of Luczynski ¶ 5; Exh.
EOUSA referred plaintiff's request to the SDNY on December 5,
2003 and asked Michelle Smith ("Smith"), the FOIA Contact, to
search the records. (Decl. of Luczynski ¶ 6; Exh. C.) On December
11, 2003, Smith informed EOUSA that no records were found in
response to plaintiff's request. (Decl. of Luczynski ¶ 7.)
Plaintiff was so informed by letter dated December 22, 2003.
(Decl. of Luczynski ¶ 8; Exh. E.)
Plaintiff filed an appeal with the Office of Information and
Privacy ("OIP") on January 6, 2004, claiming that he was
wrongfully prevented from getting the requested records. (Decl.
of Luczynski ¶ 9; Exh. F.) The OIP affirmed EOUSA's response, and
informed plaintiff of its action by letter dated June 28, 2004.
(Decl. of Luczynski ¶ 10; Exh. G.) Subsequently, plaintiff brought this action, seeking an order
compelling defendants to conduct and complete a reasonable search
for the requested documents.
Defendants filed a motion to dismiss, or, in the alternative,
Under FOIA, a government agency must promptly release agency
documents, upon request, subject to nine specific statutory
exemptions. 5 U.S.C. § 552(b). Dep't of Air Force v. Rose,
425 U.S. 352, 361 (1976). If the agency fails to release the
requested information and administrative remedies have been
exhausted, a federal district court can review the agency's
decision de novo. 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(B).
FOIA cases are typically decided on motions for summary
judgment. Miscavige v. IRS, 2 F.3d 366, 369 (11th Cir. 1993).
The standard courts use in determining if summary judgment is
appropriate is whether the moving party can establish that "there
is no genuine issue as to any material fact" such that she is
"entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c).
Summary judgment is warranted in favor of the agency when it
demonstrates that "viewing the facts in the light most favorable
to the requester, . . . [it] `has conducted a search reasonably
calculated to uncover all relevant documents.'" Steinberg v.
United States Dep't of Justice, 23 F.3d 548, 551-52 (D.C. Cir.
1994) (quoting Weisberg v. United States Dep't of Justice,
745 F.2d 1476, 1485 (D.C. Cir. 1984)); see Carney v. United States
Dep't of Justice, 19 F.3d 807, 812 (2d Cir. 1994) (stating that
to prevail on a summary judgment motion, "the defending agency
has the burden of showing that its search was adequate and that
any withheld documents fall within an exemption to the FOIA").
The agency must show that it made a "good faith effort to conduct
a search for the requested records, using methods which can be
reasonably expected to produce the information requested."
Oglesby v. Dep't of the Army, 920 F.2d 57, 68 (D.C. Cir. 1990); see Campbell v. United States Dep't of
Justice, 164 F.3d 20, 27 (D.C. Cir. 1998).
A district court needs an "adequate factual basis" before it
can hold that the government complied with FOIA. Sheet Metal
Workers v. Dep't of Veterans Affairs, 135 F.3d 891, 896 (3d Cir.
1998). The court may award summary judgment based solely on
information provided by affidavits or declarations that explain
in reasonable detail and in a non-conclusory fashion the scope
and method of the agency's search. SafeCard Services v. SEC,
926 F.2d 1197, 1200 (D.C. Cir. 1991); see Carney,
19 F.3d at 812 ("Affidavits or declarations supplying facts indicating that
the agency has conducted a thorough search . . . are sufficient
to sustain the agency's burden."). These affidavits or
declarations must be specific enough to allow meaningful review,
McDonnell v. United States, 4 F.3d 1227, 1242 (3d Cir. 1993),
and must identify the search term and the type of search
performed and describe how the files likely to contain responsive
materials were searched. Iturralde v. Comptroller of the
Currency, 315 F.3d 311, 313-14 (D.C. Cir. 2003).
The "search for responsive documents need not, and indeed could
not be perfect," and "[t]he agency is not expected to take
extraordinary measures to find the requested records, but only to
conduct a search reasonably designed to identify and locate
responsive documents." Garcia v. United States Dep't of
Justice, 181 F. Supp. 2d 356, 368 (S.D.N.Y. 2002) (internal
citation omitted). "The affidavits of the responding agency need
not set forth with meticulous documentation the details of an
epic search for the requested records." Manna v. U.S. Dep't of
Justice, 815 F. Supp. 798, 817 (D.N.J. 1993). "Rather, in the
absence of countervailing evidence or apparent inconsistency in
proof, affidavits that explain in reasonable detail ...