United States District Court, D. Maryland
W. GRIMM, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
requesting documents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,
Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) three times under
the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C.
§552,  and not receiving any response, Plaintiff
Kelly Anthony Williams filed suit against AFT. Compl., ECF
No. 1; see Supp., ECF No. 4. ATF has moved for
summary judgment, insisting that it properly withheld some
information but otherwise disclosed the documents requested.
ECF No. 29. Because ATF's response to
Williams's renewed request was reasonable and complied
with the FOIA, ATF's motion shall be granted.
who is an inmate committed to the custody of the Maryland
Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services and
confined at Maryland Correctional Institution - Hagerstown,
claims that he first requested documents from the ATF in
December of 2013. Compl. 1-2. According to Williams, the
documents he sought relate to a criminal case against him and
the seizure of his girlfriend Keri Crews's shotgun from
his apartment. Id. at 2. He requested “any
information relayed to or from the Anne Arundel County Police
in Maryland, ” as well as “any report on Keri
Crews, ” who was a possible witness in his criminal
trial. Id. He never received a response.
states he “wrote a simplier [sic] request” in
March of 2014. Id. He did not receive a response to
that request, either. Id.
October of 2014, Williams sent a third request for the same
information by certified mail. Id. He claims that
“if the ATF is withholding this information
intentionally they are impending justice and in violation of
the MPIA and FOIA.” Id. At the time Williams
filed suit, he had not received a response to his requests
from the ATF. Id.
seeks monetary damages in the amount of $500, 000 “for
the pain and suffering caused from impeding justice for the
last 20 months.” Compl. 3. He also seeks an injunction
ordering the ATF to provide him with “copies of all ATF
reports, interviews, search warrants, information, records
collected, prepared or maintained, to or from the Anne
Arundel County Police in Maryland, pertaining to”
himself and Crews. Id.
Procedural History of this Case
initially filed a Motion to Dismiss the Complaint, ECF No.
11, accompanied by an affidavit in which Stephanie M.
Boucher, Chief of ATF's Disclosure Division, stated that
a search of ATF's records did not show any receipt of
Williams's request. Jan. 5, 2016 Boucher Decl.
¶¶ 6-7, ECF No. 11-2. In response, Williams filed a
copy of the FOIA requests he had sent to ATF. ECF No. 13. The
ATF then requested and was granted a stay of these
proceedings to process the FOIA requests. ECF Nos. 16 and 17.
After receiving a renewed request from Williams and
processing that request, details of which are set forth
below, ATF filed the pending Motion for Summary Judgment.
ATF's Response to Williams's FOIA Requests
reviewing Williams's requests, the ATF sent him a letter
advising that in order to obtain records about himself and
Crews, he would need to fill out a Form DOJ-361s
(“Certification of Identity”) and return it to
the ATF. June 29, 2016 Boucher Decl. ¶ 4, Def.'s Ex.
On July 14, 2016, the ATF received Williams's July 4,
2016 renewed FOIA request, along with a completed Form
DOJ-361s. July 4, 2016 Req., Def.'s Ex. 1-C. The
Disclosure Division of the ATF acknowledged receipt of those
documents by letter dated July 15, 2016. July 15, 2016 Ltr.,
Def.'s Ex. 1-D.
August 31, 2016, the Disclosure Division identified 162 pages
of documents in response to Williams's request. Aug. 31,
2016 Ltr., Def.'s Ex. 1-E. Of the 162 pages identified,
33 pages were disclosed in full; 68 pages were released in
part; 56 pages were withheld in full (22 pages of the
withheld documents were duplicates); and 5 pages were
referred to the Federal Bureau of Investigations
(“FBI”) for processing. Id. Williams was
provided with the contact information for the FBI in the
event he had questions regarding the 5 pages referred to that
withheld information responsive to Williams's request
based on the exemptions under 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(3), (6),
(7)(C) and (7)(E). Id. In her Declaration, Boucher
provides a description of the search conducted to locate
material responsive to Williams's request. Feb. 13, 2017
Boucher Decl. ¶¶ 9-16.
Disclosure Division withheld “Firearms Trace
Summaries” from the responsive documents provided to
Williams. Feb. 13, 2017 Boucher Decl. ¶ 20. Defendant
relies upon the FOIA exemption from disclosure for the
Firearms Trace Summaries. Id. (citing 5 U.S.C.
§ 552(b)(3)). That exemption “permits withholding
of information prohibited from disclosure by another
statute” when “the statute either (A) requires
that the matters be withheld from the public in such a manner
as to leave no discretion on the issue, or (B) establishes
particular criteria for withholding or refers to particular
types of matters to be withheld.” Id. In
Williams's case, the information was withheld on the
first ground because it was subject to a statute prohibiting
its disclosure. Id. ¶¶ 21-35;
see, Def.'s Mem. 9 (citing Consol.
Appropriations Act of 2010, Pub. L. No. 112-55, 125 Stat. 552
describes the information withheld from Williams under 5
U.S.C. § 552(b)(6) and (b)(7)(C), which protect personal
privacy interests, Boucher Decl. ¶¶ 36-41, as
the names of Federal and local law enforcement agents and
employees as well as information by which those individuals
could be identified;
the names of Assistant United States Attorneys as well as
information by which those individuals could be identified;
the names of non-law enforcement third parties as well as
information by which those individuals could be identified;
information relating to criminal enforcement cases of non-law
enforcement third parties as well as information by which
those third parties could be identified, including personal
information, any statements made by those third parties,
actions taken by those third parties, or specific knowledge
that those third parties had.
Id. ¶ 42.
withheld the law enforcement codes found on Treasury
Enforcement Communications System (“TECS”)
documents pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(7)(E), which
protects law enforcement techniques and procedures and
guidelines for investigations. Boucher Decl. ¶¶
October 14, 2016, the FBI confirmed by letter that they had
provided a direct response to Williams regarding the five
pages of documents referred by the ATF. Oct. 14, 2016 Ltrs.,
Def.'s Ex. 1-F. The FBI provided the five pages
free-of-charge to Williams, id., but deleted
portions, as the FBI determined they were exempt from full
disclosure under 5 U.S.C. § 552a(j)(2). Id.
states under oath that all information that both is
responsive to Williams's request and can legally be
released has been provided to Williams. Boucher Decl. ¶
Standard of Review
judgment is proper when the moving party demonstrates,
through “particular parts of materials in the record,
including depositions, documents, electronically stored
information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations ...,
admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials,
” that “there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a), (c)(1)(A); see
also Baldwin v. City of Greensboro, 714 F.3d 828, 833
(4th Cir. 2013). If the party seeking summary judgment
demonstrates that there is no evidence to support the
nonmoving party's case, the burden shifts to the
nonmoving party to identify evidence that shows that a
genuine dispute exists as to material facts. See
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475
U.S. 574, 585-87 & n.10 (1986). The existence of only a
“scintilla of evidence” is not enough to defeat a