Mark Russell (Joseph Marcus Ruslander)

Nicholas Marritz filed this request with the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States of America.
Tracking #

A-2023-01278

1588759-000

Est. Completion None
Status
No Responsive Documents

Communications

From: Nicholas Marritz

Dear FBI:

This is a request for records under the Freedom of Information Act.

RECORDS REQUESTED:

All records related to political satirist Joseph Marcus Ruslander, better known by his stage name Mark Russell. He was born on 23 August 1932 in Buffalo, New York, USA and died on 30 March 2023. The requested documents will be made available to the general public online for free via MuckRock.com, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes. If you expect this request to exceed $25 in fees, please let me know prior to processing it. I would prefer that this request be fulfilled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or on CD-ROM if not.

Thank you very much.

Sincerely,

Nicholas Marritz

From: Federal Bureau of Investigation

The request has been rejected, with the agency stating that it can neither confirm nor deny the existence of the requested documents.

From: Nicholas Marritz

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT APPEAL
Request No. 1588759-000 RUSLANDER, JOSEPH MARCUS

Dear OIP:

I hereby appeal the FBI's Glomar rejection of my FOIA/PA request for records regarding political satirist Joseph Marcus Ruslander, better known by his stage name Mark Russell. The Bureau said that confirming or denying the existence of records would be an unwarranted invasion of Mr. Ruslander's privacy under FOIA exemptions (6) and (7)(C).

However, as I stated in my original request, Mr. Ruslander has died. His death was reported in the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times, among other places. See https://www.washingtonpost.com/obituaries/2023/03/30/mark-russell-satirist-pianist-dead https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/30/arts/mark-russell-piano-playing-political-satirist-dies-at-90 https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/tv/story/2023-03-31/mark-russell-dead-90

And exemptions (6) and (7)(C) cannot be invoked to protect the privacy of dead people. See U.S. Department of Justice, FOIA Update Vol. III, No. 4 (Jan 1, 1982), available at https://www.justice.gov/oip/blog/foia-update-foia-counselor-questions-answers-24.

There is a very narrow exception: the Supreme Court has held that Exemption 7(C) extends to a dead person's family members who object to the disclosure of graphic details surrounding their relative's death—and even then, only where the family's private interest outweighs the public interest in disclosure. National Archives and Records Admin. v. Favish, 541 US 157, 171 (2004). But there is no indication that any such concerns apply to records related to Mr. Ruslander.

Therefore, the Bureau's Glomar denial of my request was improper. Please reopen my request and remand it to the Bureau with instructions to search for and produce responsive records in accordance with the FOIA/PA. Thank you.

From: Federal Bureau of Investigation

The Office of Information Policy has received your FOIA Appeal.  Please see the attached acknowledgment letter.

From: Federal Bureau of Investigation

The Office of Information Policy has made its final determination on your FOIA Appeal Number A-2023-01278 .  A copy of this determination is enclosed for your review, along with any enclosures, if applicable.  Thank you.

From: Federal Bureau of Investigation

A no responsive documents response.

From: Federal Bureau of Investigation

A letter stating that the request appeal has been succesful.

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