United States District Court, D. Connecticut
THOMAS K. REILLY, Plaintiff,
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION GRANTING DEFENDANT'S
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [DKT NO. 66]
Vanessa L. Bryant United States District Judge.
Thomas K. Reilly brings this action seeking to compel the
production of documents responsive to a Freedom of
Information Act (“FOIA”) request first submitted
to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) on
February 23, 2016. The request sought records relating to the
criminal investigation and trial of Joseph P. Ganim, the
present and former mayor of Bridgeport, CT. Now pending
before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment [Dkt. No. 66]. For the reasons that follow,
Defendant's motion is GRANTED.
The Record on Summary Judgment
party asserting that a fact . . . is genuinely disputed must
support the assertion by . . . citing to particular parts of
materials in the record, including depositions, documents,
electronically stored information, affidavits or
declarations, stipulations, admissions, interrogatory
answers, or other materials.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). A
party may also support their assertion by “showing that
the materials cited do not establish the absence . . . of a
genuine dispute.” Id. Cited documents must
consist of either “(1) the affidavit of a witness
competent to testify as to the facts at trial and/or (2)
evidence that would be admissible at trial.” Local R.
Civ. P. 56(a)3; see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(4).
party fails to properly support an assertion of fact, or
fails to properly address another party's assertion of
fact, the Court may “consider the fact undisputed for
purposes of the motion [and] grant summary judgment if the
motion and supporting materials - including the facts
considered undisputed - show that the movant is entitled to
it.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); see also Local R.
56(a)3 (“[F]ailure to provide specific citations to
evidence in the record as required by this Local Rule may
result in the Court deeming certain facts that are supported
by the evidence admitted in accordance with [Local] Rule
56(a)1 or in the Court imposing sanctions, including . . . an
order granting the motion if the undisputed facts show that
the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(e) also permits the Court
to give a party the “opportunity to properly support or
address the fact, ” such a course of action is not
warranted in this case. Defendant attached as an exhibit to
its motion for summary judgment, the “Notice to
Self-Represented Litigant Concerning Motion for Summary
Judgment as Required by Local Rule of Civil Procedure 56(b),
” which the Court requires to be served on all pro se
litigants along with motions for summary judgment, and which
explains in detail the Court's requirements with respect
to Rule 56(a) statements. Although he is pro se,
Plaintiff's briefs display an unusually astute
understanding of the legal issues involved in this case, as
well as a facility with writing. It is therefore reasonable
to believe that Plaintiff understood Local Rule 56(a)'s
requirements, but nevertheless chose not to submit a Rule
56(a) statement. Consequently, the Court will deem admitted
any facts in the Defendant's Rule 56(a)(1) statement that
are supported by evidence.
letter dated February 22, 2016, Plaintiff submitted a FOIA
request to the FBI, seeking the production of documents
relating to a criminal investigation and prosecution which
led to the conviction thirteen years earlier of former
Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim. In particular, he requested:
Copies of all audio surveillance tapes derived from
“bugs”, wiretaps or other means, whether in
digital or other formats, (and written transcripts of such
tapes developed during the FBI and IRS investigation of
municipal corruption in Bridgeport, Connecticut which
resulted in the March 19, 2003 conviction of Joseph P. Ganim
(former and current Mayor of Bridgeport, CT, ) in the U.S.
District Court for the District of Connecticut.
[Dkt. No. 1 at 5]. By letter dated February 29, 2016, the FBI
Record/Information Dissemination Section (“RIDS”)
Chief, David M. Hardy, acknowledged receipt of the FOIA
request, and noted:
The FBI recognizes an important privacy interest in [records
concerning one or more third party individuals]. You may
receive greater access to these records if they exist by
providing one of the following: (1) an authorization and
consent from the individual(s) . . .; (2) proof of death . .
.; or (3) a justification that the public interest in
disclosure outweighs personal privacy.” Id. at
6. By letter dated March 9, 2018, Plaintiff revised his
request to include both audio and video recordings.
Id. at 8. In the same letter, Plaintiff argued that
there was a compelling public interest in the disclosure of
the requested records, because Joseph P. Ganim was a public
official convicted of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy,
extortion, honest services mail fraud and bribery.
Id. at 8-9. Plaintiff also identified instances in
which the FBI released surveillance tapes in other public
corruption cases. Id. at 9-10.
letter dated May 17, 2016, Hardy informed Plaintiff that he
had determined “unusual circumstances” applied to
Plaintiff's request, and stated that “unusual
circumstances” included (1) “a need to search for
an collect records from field offices and/or other offices
that are separate from the FBI Record/Information
Dissemination Section (RIDS)”; (2) “a need to
search for, collect, and examine a voluminous amount of
separate and distinct records”; or (3) “a need
for consultation with another agency or two or more DOJ
components.” Id. at 11. By letter dated July
6, 2016, Hardy stated, “Audio and video records were
reviewed, and it was determined that they should be withheld
in their entirety pursuant to exemption (b)(3) and in
accordance with 18 U.S.C. 2518.” Id. at 15.
filed an administrative appeal of the FBI's determination
by letter dated August 15, 2018 and received August 18, 2016.
[Dkt. No. 1 at 16-17; Dkt. No. 66-4, Exh. K]. Administrative
Specialist Priscilla Jones acknowledged receipt of the appeal
by letter dated August 24, 2016. [Dkt. No. 1 at 19]. After
Plaintiff filed this civil action on December 12, 2016, the
Office of Information Policy (“OIP”) advised
Plaintiff that his administrative appeal was closed due to
his pending lawsuit. [Dkt. No. 66-4, Exh. N].
FBI Efforts to Locate ...