Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

O'Neill v. United States Department of Justice

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

January 25, 2017

KEVIN O'NEILL, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, and UNITED STATES MARSHALS SERVICE, Defendants.

          DECISION AND ORDER

          LYNN ADELMAN District Judge.

         Kevin O'Neill, a federal prisoner who is representing himself, filed an action under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552, alleging that defendants failed to produce certain documents he requested under the law. ECF No. 1. I screened the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and allowed him to proceed with a claim that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) and the United States Marshal's Service (“USMS”) improperly withheld a 56-page courtroom security plan, along with documents related to a murder plot, that plaintiff requested in 2015. ECF No. 4. I asked defendants to answer by July 20, 2016, and they instead filed a motion for summary judgment on that date. ECF No. 10. Plaintiff then filed a “motion for judicial notice and a motion to expand the record” on December 6, 2016. ECF No. 16. The motions are now fully briefed and ready for decision and order.

         I. FACTS[1]

         Plaintiff is an inmate at the Oxford Federal Correctional Institution. Compl., ¶ 5. From early March 2000 to June 15, 2000, he was one of nine defendants on trial for racketeering at the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Id., ¶ 8. On or about April 15, 2000, individuals with the USMS lost a 56-page courtroom security plan that they created for the trial. Id., ¶ 9. They apparently left the security plan in the lobby of the Hyatt Hotel where they were staying for the trial. Id., ¶ 9. A reporter published a story on the incident entitled “US Marshals lose copy of security plan in Outlaws federal racketeering trial: U.S. Marshals blow their cover at racketeering trial of nine bikers; abandon 56-page security plan after agent leaves copy in hotel lobby.” See http://www.putnampit.com/outlaws.html. The news story stated that plaintiff arranged to have Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Kanter killed for a certain amount of money and that the FBI had to assign in-district personal protection on Kanter as a result of the threat. Id. Plaintiff was eventually convicted of racketeering, and he is still in prison for that conviction.

         About fifteen years later, on April 28, 2015, plaintiff “became aware” that the USMS had lost the 56-page courtroom security plan and that a news story had been published on the incident with details regarding plaintiff's murder plot. Id., ¶ 13. That same day, plaintiff drafted a FOIA request letter addressed to Teresa L. Carlson at the FBI, and he served it on the USMS, the FBI, and the Executive Office for United States Attorneys. ECF No. 1-1 at 2-5. The letter stated:

“I am requesting a copy of the 56-page document the reporter acquired for this story, as well as any other records the FBI maintains with a nexus to the alleged plot your agency conveyed to the U.S. Marshals Service which resulted in (then) Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal ‘[Joseph] Tindal direct[ing] the establishment of an in-district personal protection assignment on…[AUSA] Kanter, ' as well as the implementation of other extreme security measures.”

Id. at 2.

         USMS Response to Plaintiff's FOIA Request

         In response to the plaintiff's FOIA request, the USMS Milwaukee office, who created the 56-page courtroom security plan for plaintiff's trial, searched their paper and electronic records for the documents plaintiff requested. Bordley Dec., ECF No. 11-1, ¶ 3. William E. Bordley, the Associate General Counsel and Freedom of Information/Privacy Act Officer for the USMS, provided a declaration with information on how and why the USMS stores records, and how they processed plaintiff's FOIA request in this case. Id., ¶ 1.

         Bordley explained that the USMS is responsible for “investigating fugitive matters, ” “executing warrants, ” and “receiving, processing, transferring and maintaining custody of federal prisoners.” Id., ¶ 4. To aid in carrying out these responsibilities, the USMS stores information in two electronic databases: the “Prisoner Processing and Population Management/Prisoner Tracking System” and the “Warrant Information Network.” Id. Both of these databases are searched by an individual's name and/or his personal identifiers, i.e., the individual's date or place of birth, social security number, and prisoner registration number. Id.

         The USMS also stores records on individual office computers. Id., ¶ 6. USMS employees have access to an individual office computer where they can create and save documents, and they also have access to the office's “shared drive” which contains templates for employee use. Id., ¶ 6. In 2000, office practice was to use a template and save “high-risk” security plans on an employee's individual office computer. Id. The office's individual computers were most recently replaced in 2006-07, and no copies of the old computer drives were saved. Id.

         Finally, the USMS also has limited paper files. Id., ¶ 5-6. Once the USMS completes its responsibilities relating to a particular trial, it does not save paper copies of the security plan for that trial, other than possibly as a template for future cases. Id., ¶ 5.

         In response to plaintiff's FOIA request, the USMS searched their Prisoner Processing and Population Management/Prisoner Tracking System and the Warrant Information Network using plaintiff's name and personal identifiers. Id., ¶ 3. They found some information relating to plaintiff, but they did not locate a copy of the security plan. Id., ¶ 4. They searched their individual computers and shared drives, but could not find a copy of the security plan. Id. USMS also searched their paper files but could not find a copy of the security plan. Id., ¶ 6. By letter dated July 22, 2016, the USMS informed plaintiff that their search for records did not yield any responsive documents. Id., ¶ 7.

         FBI Response to Plaintiff's FOIA Request

         In response to the plaintiff's FOIA request, the FBI also searched their paper and electronic records for the documents plaintiff requested. Hardy Dec., ECF No. 11-2, ¶¶ 7-8. David M. Hardy, the Section Chief of the FBI's Record/Information Dissemination Section (“RIDS”) provided a declaration with information on the FBI's ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.