The opinion of the court was delivered by: Leval, District Judge.
On May 31, 1990, Sibille made similar FOIA requests on the
Bank and the Board, seeking documents relating to
communications of the Bank and Board referring to Drexel
Burnham Lambert Group Inc. Sibille, who is an attorney
associated with the law firm of Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue,
made the requests in connection with the firm's representation
of the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors of Drexel
Burnham Lambert Group Inc.
On June 7, 1990, the Bank responded, stating that it
believed it was not subject to FOIA, but nevertheless had a
policy to "comply with the spirit of FOIA." The Bank wrote
that it would need additional time to respond to the request,
citing 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(B), and delayed its response time
to June 28, 1990.
On June 28, 1990, the Bank informed Sibille of the existence
of responsive documents, but asserted that the documents would
be withheld pursuant to Exemption 5 of FOIA.*fn1 On July 11,
1990, Sibille appealed the decision. On August 13, 1990, this
administrative appeal was denied. Throughout this process,
Sibille claimed entitlement to a Vaughn index of documents to
which she was denied access. The Bank refused to provide an
On July 20, 1991, the Board informed Sibille that it had
located no responsive documents.
On September 12, 1990, Sibille filed this complaint seeking
a Vaughn index and the production of the requested documents.
According to plaintiff, the Bank subsequently informed her that
she should address her request to the Board, as the documents
requested concerned information of the Board. On October 23,
1990, the Board denied plaintiff's FOIA request, stating that
the responsive documents were not agency records within the
meaning of FOIA and further stating that the documents were
also subject to FOIA exemptions 5 and 8.*fn2 Plaintiff
appealed the Board's denial of her FOIA request. The appeal was
denied on November 20, 1990.
Under the provisions of FOIA, agency records may be exempt
from disclosure on various grounds. See 5 U.S.C. § 552(b). When
an agency claims an exemption, the party requesting disclosure
faces the difficult task of contesting the claim without being
able to review the documents. To help compensate for the
informational imbalance, courts may order the agency to provide
an index of the documents, to segregate the diselosable from
the non-diselosable portions, and to correlate each
non-disclosable portion to a specific FOIA exemption. See
Vaughn v. Rosen, 484 F.2d 820 (D.C. Cir. 1973), cert. denied,
415 U.S. 977, 94 S.Ct. 1564, 39 L.Ed.2d 873 (1974); see also
Brown v. Federal Bureau of Investigation, 658 F.2d 71, 73-74
(2d Cir. 1981). Such a "Vaughn index" affords the party seeking
disclosure a better opportunity to evaluate the agency's
claims, and the more robust adversary process which results
assists the court in its in camera review of the documents.
A Vaughn index does not appear necessary at this time. The
defendants have submitted affidavits of the authors of the
documents at issue. Because the affidavits are sufficient for
resolving the dispositive issue of whether the documents are
agency records, I will not ...