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Case TitleMOAYEDI v. U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION
DistrictDistrict of Columbia
CityWashington, DC
Case Number1:2006cv01082
Date Filed2006-06-13
Date Closed2009-05-20
JudgeJudge Reggie B. Walton
PlaintiffSINA MOAYEDI
DefendantU.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION
Documents
Docket
Complaint
Opinion/Order [19]
FOIA Project Annotation: Judge Reggie Walton has ruled that Customs and Border Protection properly invoked Exemption 2 (internal practices and procedures) to withhold information concerning the frequent detention and interrogation of Sina Moayedi, an Iranian-born naturalized U.S. citizen whose construction company, ironically, worked on a number of federal government projects abroad, including naval air stations and U.S. embassies. After Moayedi was once again detained and questioned at the Miami Airport when he returned from a business trip to Jamaica, he filed an FOIA request to determine why he continued to be detained. The agency searched its Treasury Enforcement Communications System database and found 24 responsive records, each of which contained information the agency redacted under Exemption 2 and Exemption 7 (law enforcement records). Dissatisfied with the agency's response, Moayedi sued, challenging the adequacy of the agency's search and its Exemption 2 claims. Moayedi argued the agency searched only its TECS system and failed to search any regional offices. Noting that the agency indicated that the TECS is the "only CBP database that would reasonably contain the information requested in this FOIA request," Walton observed that "the plaintiff has not established, but merely speculates, that additional records exist. Although the 'CBP's search did not locate, or disclose, a single record instructing [the] CBP to enter the notation "TECS LOOKOUT" nor did the search locate a single record discussing the reasons for placing a lookout on [the plaintiff,]' it is not necessary that the search be perfect, but only reasonable." Walton pointed out that the agency's regulations required a requester to request records directly from field offices and that headquarters had no legal obligation to search offices not mentioned in the request. He indicated that "moreover, the TECS database produced records from each airport where the plaintiff was interrogated, so there is no reason to believe that the CBP might find responsive documents elsewhere." Moayedi argued the agency's index did not explain the differences in low-2 and high-2 redactions. But Walton explained that "it is not necessary that an agency attach specific labels to designate whether a withholding falls under the 'Low 2' or 'High 2" category in order to comply with Vaughn." Walton agreed that the agency had properly applied low-2, noting that "the reaction made by the CBP on the basis that the information qualifies as 'Low 2' material was proper, because Exemption 2 is 'automatic' when the information involves purely internal markings of no genuine public interest." As to the circumvention of regulation or law prong of the exemption, he indicated that "it is legally irrelevant whether or not the plaintiff himself intends to circumvent agency regulations or to make the information more readily available to others who intend to do so." He added that "this material is properly withheld in light of its relationship to airport and border security, which is of utmost importance in today's environment. Therefore, the Court concludes that the material withheld regarding the possible reasons why individuals are detained and questioned is predominantly internal and because its disclosure may enable potential suspects to 'change [their] pattern of [illegal activities] in order to avoid detection and apprehension],' it properly qualifies as 'High 2' material exempt from disclosure under the FOIA."
Issues: Exemption 2 - Risk of circumvention
User-contributed Documents
 
Docket Events (Hide)
Date FiledDoc #Docket Text

2006-06-13SUMMONS Issued (3) as to U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION, U.S. Attorney and U.S. Attorney General (ks, ) (Entered: 06/20/2006)
2006-06-131COMPLAINT against U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION (Filing fee $ 350) filed by SINA MOAYEDI.(ks, ) (Entered: 06/20/2006)
2006-08-092ANSWER to Complaint by U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION. Related document: 1 Complaint filed by SINA MOAYEDI,.(Fields, Rhonda) (Entered: 08/09/2006)
2006-08-113ORDER for Initial Scheduling Conference set for 9/27/2006 09:15 AM in Courtroom 16 before Judge Reggie B. Walton. (mpt, ) (Entered: 08/11/2006)
2006-08-114GENERAL ORDER AND GUIDELINES FOR CIVIL CASES. (mpt, ) (Entered: 08/11/2006)
2006-09-265MEET AND CONFER STATEMENT. (Stanco, Eric) (Entered: 09/26/2006)
2006-09-29SCHEDULING ORDER: Dispositive Motions due by 11/13/2006. Response to Dispositive Motions due by 12/13/2006. Reply to Dispositive Motions due by 12/28/2006. Status Conference set for 4/10/2007 at 09:30 AM in Courtroom 16 before Judge Reggie B. Walton. Signed by Judge Reggie B. Walton on September 28, 2006. (MDW, ) (Entered: 09/29/2006)
2006-09-29Set Deadlines/Hearings: Dispositive Motions due by 11/13/2006. Response to Dispositive Motions due by 12/13/2006. Reply to Dispositive Motions due by 12/28/2006. Status Conference set for 4/10/2007 09:30 AM in Courtroom 16 before Judge Reggie B. Walton. (mpt, ) (Entered: 09/29/2006)
2006-11-096MOTION for Summary Judgment by U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION. (Attachments: # 1 Pullo Declaration# 2 Exhibit A pp 1-10# 3 Exhibit A pp 11-25# 4 Exhibit B# 5 Exhibit C# 6 Exhibit D# 7 Exhibit E# 8 Exhibit F part 1# 9 Exhibit F part 2# 10 Text of Proposed Order)(Fields, Rhonda) (Entered: 11/09/2006)
2006-12-137Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment by SINA MOAYEDI. (Stanco, Eric) Additional attachment(s) added on 12/14/2006 (td, ). (Entered: 12/13/2006)
2006-12-138ENTERED IN ERROR. . . .Memorandum in opposition to re 6 MOTION for Summary Judgment and in Support of Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment filed by SINA MOAYEDI. (Attachments: # 1 Statement of Facts in Dispute# 2 Affidavit of Sina Moayedi# 3 Text of Proposed Order)(Stanco, Eric) Modified on 12/14/2006 (td, ). (Entered: 12/13/2006)
2006-12-139ADDITIONAL ATTACHMENT Statement of Material Facts Not in Dispute in Support of Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment by SINA MOAYEDI 7 Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by SINA MOAYEDI,. (Stanco, Eric) (Entered: 12/13/2006)
2006-12-13NOTICE OF CORRECTED DOCKET ENTRY: re 8 Memorandum in Opposition, was entered in error and counsel is refiling pleading. (td, ) (Entered: 12/14/2006)
2006-12-1410Memorandum in opposition to re 6 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by SINA MOAYEDI. (Attachments: # 1 Affidavit of Sina Moayedi# 2 Statement of Facts in Dispute# 3 Text of Proposed Order)(Stanco, Eric) (Entered: 12/14/2006)
2006-12-1511MOTION for Hearing Motion for Oral Argument by SINA MOAYEDI. (Stanco, Eric) (Entered: 12/15/2006)
2006-12-2712Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply as to 7 Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment and opposition to defendant's motion for summary judgment by U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Fields, Rhonda) (Entered: 12/27/2006)
2006-12-29MINUTE ORDER granting 12 Motion for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply. The defendant shall file its response to the plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment and its reply to the plaintiff's opposition to the defendant's motion for summary judgment by January 11, 2007. Signed by Judge Reggie B. Walton on 12/29/06. (lcrbw2) (Entered: 12/29/2006)
2007-01-03Set/Reset Deadlines: Responses to cross motion for summary judgment and reply to opposition due by 1/11/2007 (mpt, ) (Entered: 01/03/2007)
2007-01-1113REPLY to opposition to motion re 7 Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment Reply to Plaintiff's opposition to defendant's motion for summary judgment and opposition to plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment filed by U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Fields, Rhonda) (Entered: 01/11/2007)
2007-01-1114Memorandum in opposition to re 7 Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Fields, Rhonda) (Entered: 01/11/2007)
2007-01-1115ERRATA by U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION 14 Memorandum in Opposition filed by U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION,, 13 Reply to opposition to Motion, filed by U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION,. (Attachments: # 1 Pullo supplemental dec 01-10-2007)(Fields, Rhonda) (Entered: 01/11/2007)
2007-03-30MINUTE ORDER. The status conference scheduled for April 10, 2007 at 9:30 a.m. is vacated. Signed by Judge Reggie B. Walton on 3/30/07. (lcrbw2) (Entered: 03/30/2007)
2007-04-0916ENTERED IN ERROR.....NOTICE of Appearance by Valerie Elizabeth Powell on behalf of SINA MOAYEDI (Powell, Valerie) Modified on 4/10/2007 (nmw, ). (Entered: 04/09/2007)
2007-04-10NOTICE OF CORRECTED DOCKET ENTRY: Document No. 16 Notice of Appearance was entered in error and counsel was instructed to refile said pleading to reflect correct party name on the form. (nmw, ) (Entered: 04/10/2007)
2007-04-1017NOTICE of Appearance by Valerie Elizabeth Powell on behalf of SINA MOAYEDI (Powell, Valerie) (Entered: 04/10/2007)
2007-06-06MINUTE ORDER denying 11 Plaintiff's Motion for Oral Argument. The Court will resolve the motion on the parties' submissions. Signed by Judge Reggie B. Walton on June 6, 2007. (MDW, ) (Entered: 06/06/2007)
2007-09-1118ORDER granting 6 Motion for Summary Judgment; denying 7 Motion for Summary Judgment. Signed by Judge Reggie B. Walton on September 11, 2007. (MDW, ) (Entered: 09/11/2007)
2007-09-1119MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Reggie B. Walton on September 11, 2007. (MDW, ) (Entered: 09/11/2007)
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by FOIA Project Staff