United States District Court, S.D. California
WILLIAM Q. HAYES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter before the Court is the Complaint filed by Plaintiff
Emilio Reyes (“Plaintiff”) (ECF No. 1) and the
Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis
(“IFP”) (ECF No. 2) filed by Plaintiff.
13, 2017, Plaintiff commenced this action under the Freedom
of Information Act (“FOIA”). (ECF No. 1).
Plaintiff has not paid the $400 civil filing fee required to
commenced this action, but Plaintiff has filed the Motion for
Leave to Proceed IFP pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. (ECF
Motion for Leave to Proceed IFP (ECF No. 2)
parties instituting a civil action, suit, or proceeding in a
district court of the United States, other than a petition
for writ of habeas corpus, must pay a filing fee of $400.00.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a); Civ LR 4.5. An action
may proceed despite a party's failure to pay only if the
party is granted leave to proceed IFP pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(a). 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) states,
any court of the United States may authorize the
commencement, prosecution or defense of any suit, action or
proceeding, civil or criminal, or appeal therein, without
prepayment of fees or security therefor, by a person who
submits an affidavit that includes a statement of all assets
such prisoner possesses that the person is unable to pay such
fees or give security therefor. Such affidavit shall state
the nature of the action, defense or appeal and affiant's
belief that the person is entitled to redress.
28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1).
case, after considering Plaintiff's motion and affidavit,
the Court concludes that Plaintiff cannot afford to pay the
filing fee in this case and is eligible to proceed IFP
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). The Motion for Leave to
Proceed IFP (ECF No. 2) is GRANTED.
Initial Screening of the Complaint
complaint filed by any person proceeding IFP pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915(a) is subject to mandatory review and sua
sponte dismissal to the extent it “is frivolous or
malicious; fails to state a claim on which relief may be
granted; or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is
immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B); see Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122,
1126 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc). This screening standard
applies to all civil actions where a court grants IFP;
see Calhoun v. Stahl, 254 F.3d 845, 845 (9th Cir.
2001) (per curiam) (“the provisions of 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B) are not limited to prisoners”).
case, the Complaint states that “plaintiff seeks access
to documents in the possession of the Bureau of Indian
Affairs concerning FOIA BIA-2017-00004 seeking 1928
California Indian enrollment application #5691 for Margaret
Alviso Domingues and #5692 for Custodia Alviso Robles.”
(ECF No. 1 at 1). The Complaint states,
14 documents responsive to Plaintiffs FOIA request have been
withheld in full. A Vaughn index would be
particularly useful in sharpening the issues and permitting
the plaintiff to test the bases for the government's
exemption claims. Therefore, plaintiff has requested the
Court to require the defendant to provide the plaintiff with
an appropriate Vaughn index within 20 days of the
date of the Court's Order.
Id. at 2.
‘was enacted to facilitate public access to Government
documents.'” Lahr v. Nat'l Transp. Safety
Bd., 569 F.3d 964, 973 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting U.S.
Dept. of State v. Ray, 502 U.S. 164, 173 (1991)). The
purpose of a Vaughn index, a term which originated
from Vaughn v. Rosen, 484 F.2d 820 (D.C. Cir. 1973),
“‘is to afford the FOIA requester a meaningful
opportunity to contest, and the district court an adequate
opportunity to review, the soundness of the
withholding.'” Fiduccia v. U.S. Dept. of
Justice, 185 F.3d 1035, 1042 (9th Cir. 1999) (quoting
Wiener v. F.B.I., 943 F.2d 972, 977 (9th Cir.
1991)). Under the FOIA statute, “federal jurisdiction
is dependent upon a showing that an agency has (1)
‘improperly'; (2) ‘withheld'; (3)
‘agency records.'” Kissinger v. Reporters
Comm. for Freedom of the Press, 445 U.S. 136, 150 (1980)
(citation omitted). “FOIA's waiver of immunity and
jurisdictional grant provides that district courts have
‘jurisdiction to enjoin the agency from withholding
agency records and to order the production of any agency