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Bryson v. Gerson

United States District Court, E.D. California

August 14, 2014

WILLIAM M. BRYSON, Jr., Plaintiff,
v.
SUSAN B. GERSON, Defendant.

ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND (ECF NO. 1)

MICHAEL J. SENG, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff is a federal prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this action under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552. (ECF No. 1.)

Plaintiff's Complaint is now before the Court for screening.

I. SCREENING REQUIREMENT

The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally "frivolous, malicious, " or that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). "Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that... the action or appeal... fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

II. PLEADING STANDARD

A complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief...." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Plaintiff must set forth "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id . Facial plausibility demands more than the mere possibility that a defendant committed misconduct and, while factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id. at 677-78.

II. PLAINTIFF'S CLAIMS

Plaintiff is currently housed at Atwater Penitentiary in Atwater, California. Plaintiff names as defendants (1) Susan B. Gerson, Assistant Director of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys, (2) President Bush, and (3) their successors. Plaintiff brings a sole claim under the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"), 5 U.S.C. § 552.

Plaintiff's allegations concern two FOIA requests. Plaintiff sent the first request to the Executive Office for United States Attorneys on July 2, 2013, and sought "information and any presented evidence" from the grand jury proceedings in Plaintiff's underlying criminal case. Plaintiff sent the second request to Defendant Gerson at the Executive Office for United States Attorneys on August 12, 2013, and sought documents presented at trial in Plaintiff's criminal case.

Plaintiff did not receive a response to either request. He asks that the court order the release of the requested records.

III. ANALYSIS

With limited exceptions, government agencies must make records promptly available upon a request for records which "(i) reasonably describes such records and (ii) is made in accordance with published rules stating the time, place, fees (if any), and procedures to be followed." 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(3)(A).

"On complaint, the district court of the United States in the district in which the complainant resides... has jurisdiction to enjoin the agency from withholding agency records and to order the production of any agency records improperly withheld from the complainant." 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(B). "Under this provision, federal jurisdiction is dependent on a showing that an agency has (1) improperly (2) withheld (3) agency records." U.S. Dep't of Justice v. Tax Analysts , 492 U.S. 136, 142 (1989) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Kissinger v. Reporters Comm. for Freedom of Press , 445 U.S. 136, 150 (1980)). "Unless ...


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