Sarasota 2013 USMS task force raid review (USMS OPR)

Shawn Musgrave filed this request with the Department of Justice, United States Marshals of the United States of America.

It is a clone of this request.

Tracking # 2015USMS28586 ; DOJ-AP-2016-002272
Status
Rejected

Communications

From: Shawn Musgrave

To Whom It May Concern:

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request the following records:

The USMS Office of Professional Responsibility review of events that took place in Sarasota, Florida in July 2013, in which a deputy US Marshal entered an apartment without a warrant during a suspect search.

Per reporting from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune (http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20130725/OPINION/307259997):

"Here's the best that can be said about the outrageous conduct of a U.S. marshal during a misguided raid last week on a Sarasota home: The Marshals Service is looking into it.

In answer to our inquiry, Pete Cajigal, assistant chief of the Marshals Service's Tampa office, called Tuesday to say that the service is "very much aware of the situation" in Sarasota "and we take it very seriously."

Cajigal added that the service is conducting an internal investigation to determine what occurred on the evening of Wednesday, July 17, and why."

Given that this FOIA is submitted in my capacity as a journalist who has covered the Justice Department extensively, I request that I be categorized as a media requester for the purpose of fees. Here is a selection of my published articles on MuckRock:

https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2015/jan/12/how-843-lbs-seized-pot-lead-customs-and-border-pro/

https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2015/mar/03/us-marshals-service-conceal-key-details-millions-s/

https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2015/feb/27/while-dodging-direct-question-fbi-commits-obama-st/

https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2015/feb/27/while-dodging-direct-question-fbi-commits-obama-st/

https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2015/feb/12/fbi-and-justice-department-cant-find-drone-privacy/

https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2015/jan/22/air-force-knows-how-many-mq-9-drones-it-wants-cant/

I have also been published in a number of national media outlets on topics pertaining to law enforcement:

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/the-us-spent-360-million-on-border-drones-thanks-to-this-flimsy-report

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/the-air-force-says-it-needs-precisely-52-new-reaper-drones-cant-explain-why

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/do-the-fbis-drones-invade-your-privacy-sorry-thats-private

https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2013/04/08/big-brother-better-police-work-new-technology-automatically-runs-license-plates-everyone/1qoAoFfgp31UnXZT2CsFSK/story.html

www.betaboston.com/news/2014/03/05/a-vast-hidden-surveillance-network-runs-across-america-powered-by-the-repo-industry/

https://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/02/05/nypd-social-media-policy-allows-catfishing-with-the-proper-paperwork.html

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2014/12/03/the-pentagon-finally-details-its-weapons-for-cops-giveaway

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/do-the-fbis-drones-invade-your-privacy-sorry-thats-private

https://news.vice.com/article/fbi-agent-who-killed-boston-bombing-suspects-friend-was-twice-accused-of-police-brutality

As the requested documents will be made available to the general public free of charge as part of the public information service at MuckRock.com and pertains to a matter of considerable public interest, I further request a full waiver of all fees.

In the event that fees cannot be waived, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 20 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Shawn Musgrave

From: Department of Justice, United States Marshals

An acknowledgement letter, stating the request is being processed.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on July 13, 2015. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #2015USMS28586.

Thanks for your help, and let me know if further clarification is needed.

From: Wassom, Leila (USMS)

Good morning,

I have been assigned to process the above-captioned FOIA request. FOIA requests are processed in order of receipt, and I have a large backlog of requests received prior to yours. Therefore, it will be several months before you receive a response.

Leila Wassom
FOI/PA Specialist
United States Marshals Service
Office of General Counsel
(202) 353-8310

From: Wassom, Leila (USMS)

Good morning,

The response to your request was mailed to you on or about December 23, 2015.

Leila Wassom
FOI/PA Specialist
United States Marshals Service
Office of General Counsel
(202) 353-8310

From: Shawn Musgrave

Hello -

According to our records, we never received the response sent in December. Please resend, along with the original cover letter.

Best,
Shawn

From: Wassom, Leila (USMS)

Shawn,

Attached is the response.

Leila

Leila Wassom
FOI/PA Specialist
United States Marshals Service
Office of General Counsel
(202) 353-8310

From: Shawn Musgrave

Director, Office of Information Policy (OIP)
United States Department of Justice
Suite 11050
1425 New York Avenue, NW
Washington, DC, 20530-0001

To Whom It May Concern:

I hereby appeal the rejection in full of my FOIA request to the US Marshals. In typical fashion, the US Marshals have inappropriately invoked exemptions in a blanket fashion without releasing documents in part or justifying why documents cannot be released in part.

In July 2015, I requested the following documents from the US Marshals:

The USMS Office of Professional Responsibility review of events that took place in Sarasota, Florida in July 2013, in which a deputy US Marshal entered an apartment without a warrant during a suspect search.

In an acknowledgement letter dated 7-27-15, the US Marshals assigned my request tracking number 2015USMS28586.

In a further response dated Dec 23, 2015 — which I only received in late February due to an apparent postal error — the USMS FOIA office rejected my response in full. The USMS failed to justify its withholding of the requested documents save to cite the b(7)(c) exemption and explain its general application in cursory fashion. As is their typical way, the USMS FOIA office did not even attempt to apply the noted exemption to the requested documents, or to explain why the requested documents could not be redacted so as to render inapplicable the supposed privacy issues.

I requested these documents based on reporting from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune (http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20130725/OPINION/307259997):

"Here's the best that can be said about the outrageous conduct of a U.S. marshal during a misguided raid last week on a Sarasota home: The Marshals Service is looking into it. [....] In answer to our inquiry, Pete Cajigal, assistant chief of the Marshals Service's Tampa office, called Tuesday to say that the service is "very much aware of the situation" in Sarasota "and we take it very seriously." [....] Cajigal added that the service is conducting an internal investigation to determine what occurred on the evening of Wednesday, July 17, and why."

The press office deemed it appropriate to indicate that an internal investigation was being conducted into the event for which I seek OPR documents. Thus the existence of such an investigation does not pose any supposed privacy issues. While OPR documents might contain private information that merits redaction, the event in question was widely covered by the press. As such, the burden falls to the USMS FOIA office to justify why portions of the requested documents cannot be released with redactions.

Opinions from dozens of FOIA lawsuits deal specifically with the obligation of the government to redact in part pursuant to exemption b(7)(C). The Office of Information Policy's own 2014 guide to the application of exemption b(7)(C) provides a useful guide to such caselaw: https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/oip/legacy/2014/07/23/exemption7c_0.pdf

A simple keyword search of the above guide contains the word "redact" (or some variant thereof) more than 20 times. This is a clear matter where the USMS has invoked in lazy, blanket fashion an exemption that is meant to be invoked narrowly. I request that you remand this FOIA request back to the US Marshals for a good faith search and provision of responsive documents, per the agency's obligations to the spirit and letter of the Freedom of Information Act.

Respectfully,
Shawn Musgrave

From: OIP-NoReply

Please do not reply to this e-mail, as this account is not monitored. To ensure a prompt reply, please direct any inquiries to the contact information listed in the correspondence provided to you. Thank you.

From: OIP-NoReply@usdoj.gov

DOJ-AP-2016-002272 has been processed with the following final disposition: Affirmed on Appeal.

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