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Rosenfeld v. Federal Bureau of Investigation

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

September 23, 2013

Seth Rosenfeld, Plaintiff,
v.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, and United States Department of Justice, Defendants.

BENJAMIN W. STEIN (California SBN 260074), Law Office of Benjamin Stein, Oakland CA, Attorney for SETH ROSENFELD.

PLAINTIFF'S SUPLEMENTAL STATUS REPORT AND [PROPOSED] ORDER

MARIA-ELENA JAMES, Magistrate Judge.

Pursuant to this Court's August 30, 2013 Order, Plaintiff herein provides a supplemental status report in this Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA") action. After the November 20, 2012, judicially assisted meet and confer, the parties have continued to confer and exchange information on a regular basis. However, the parties are not able to agree on the threshold question as to whether the Federal Bureau of Investigation's ("FBI") search for documents responsive to Plaintiff's FOIA request was adequate, as well as several other issues as set forth below. Without the identified search issues resolved, the parties are not able to engage in meaningful discussion about the produced documents and whether the FBI has complied with the FOIA.

Plaintiff's position:

1) Defendants have blatantly failed to conduct adequate searches, and as a result the FBI is withholding substantial public information.

2) Defendants have improperly redacted the released records, making baseless exemption claims, and as a result are withholding voluminous public information that should be released.

3) Defendants have refused to acknowledge that the FBI has officially confirmed that the late Richard Aoki was a paid FBI informant, despite the fact that the FBI has repeatedly released scores of records that explicitly confirm that he was a paid FBI informant.

Remaining Litigation:

Plaintiff and Defendants have agreed to bifurcate the issues, first addressing the threshold issue of the adequacy of the Defendants' search before addressing the remaining issues.

Once those identified search issues are resolved, and the Court has ruled on them, and any further searches are conducted as may be ordered by the Court and any additional non-exempt records are produced, the parties would then more efficiently address any disputed redactions and exemption claims in the entire body of documents in a second round of briefs, using a "Vaughn" sample that would produce representative rulings to be applied to all records, as directed by the Court.

Discovery:

Plaintiff believes that limited and particular discovery is necessary in order for the parties and the Court to reasonably and specifically address the dispute over the adequacy of the FBI's searches. This discovery would be intended to produce clear and complete descriptions of relevant FBI records and indexes that Plaintiff contends should have reasonably been searched. The requested discovery would be consistent with the kind of discovery that has been ordered in other FOIA cases, including those in the Northern District.

Defendants state that they are likely oppose any request for any discovery, but are ...


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