Abramyan v. DHS, No. 12-cv-01064, 2013 WL 6247338 (D.D.C. December 4, 2013) (Rothstein, J.)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Re: Request for complete copy of requester's "'Alien File'" or "'A-File'" Disposition: Granting defendant's motion for summary judgment
  • Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Search:  The court finds that "[defendant] conducted an adequate search."  The court explains that "[a]lthough [defendant] was initially unsuccessful, [defendant's] declaration explains that [defendant] was subsequently able to retrieve [plaintiff's] A-file when [plaintiff's] letter of appeal 'provided additional information.'"  Therefore, the "issue is moot" because "[s]ubsequent production can cure deficiencies in the initial search."
  • Exemption 5:  The court holds that "the Assessment to Refer was both predecisional and deliberative, [and so] it qualifies for withholding under exemption (b)(5)."  The court notes that "[plaintiff's] perspective is consistent with [defendant's] declaration, which describes the Assessment to Refer as the asylum officer's 'initial recommendation.'"  The court also finds that "[e]ven the factual information in the Assessment to Refer can be considered deliberative, because it is a 'distillation' of the facts, not a 'verbatim transcript.'"
  • Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Pleadings:  The court rejects plaintiff's argument that "[defendant's] descriptions of the handwritten notes are so generic as to prevent the Court from determining whether the exemption should apply, or whether [defendant] met its burden in disclosing all segregable non-exempt information."  The court finds that defendant's "description provides enough detail for the Court to determine that the notes are protected by the deliberative process privilege, and that [defendant] could not reasonably segregate non-exempt information—if any non-exempt information exists on those pages."  The Court explains that it "cannot require [defendant] to describe exactly which portions of the interview the asylum officer selected to record, without defeating the purpose of the exemption."
Adequacy of Search
Exemption 5
Litigation Considerations
Updated August 6, 2014