OPINION & ORDER
John G. Koeltl, District Judge.
Each party has moved the Court for an order granting summary judgment. The complaint seeks information about several Drug Enforcement Administration ("DEA") agents pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"). Prior to commencement of this action, the plaintiff, Gary Triestman, sought this information by administrative means, beginning in November, 1993. He seeks to know which, if any, of thirteen DEA agents have been "investigated in any capacity for alleged perjurious statements or mishandling of evidence, or the supplying of false evidence or testimony; and. . . the particulars and outcome of those investigations."
Triestman seeks the information for use in a collateral attack on his conviction. Apparently, his position is that he pleaded guilty to a crime for which he is presently incarcerated, because, among other reasons, DEA agents fabricated evidence.
On May 25, 1994, the Office of Information and Privacy ("OIP") issued a final denial of Triestman's FOIA request, after his appeal of an initial, undated denial by the DEA. Both denials refused either to acknowledge or to deny the existence of any documents responsive to the request.
The OIP based its decision on 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(7)(C), which provides an exemption from disclosure for "records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes, but only to the extent that the production of such law enforcement records or information. . . could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy." 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(7). It is undisputed that Triestman's FOIA request is a request for records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes. The OIP explained that Exemption 7(C) justifies a refusal to respond to the request, because "Lacking an individual's consent, proof of death, official acknowledgement of an investigation, or an overriding public interest, even to acknowledge the existence of such law enforcement records could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy." Letter from Richard L. Huff, Co-Director OIP, to Gary Triestman, May 25, 1994 (upholding DEA's refusal to release information on appeal from the DEA decision).
Government employees have a privacy interest in not having their names disclosed in connection with investigations in which they are or were under scrutiny. See, e.g., Hunt v. FBI, 972 F.2d 286, 288 (9th Cir. 1992). They also have privacy interests in their employment histories and performance evaluations and a strong privacy interest in not being wrongfully associated with criminal activity. Stern v. FBI, 237 U.S. App. D.C. 302, 737 F.2d 84, 91-92 (D.C. Cir. 1984). However, exemption (b)(7)(C) applies only if a disclosure could reasonably be expected to lead to an unwarranted invasion of privacy. The question of whether a reasonably expected invasion is warranted is to be resolved by determining whether the invasion of privacy is justified by weightier public interests in disclosure. See Massey v. FBI, 3 F.3d 620, 624 (2d Cir. 1993) ("The exemption applies only if the invasion of privacy that would result from release of the information outweighs the public interest in disclosure") (citations omitted). No public interest outweighs the privacy interests of the DEA agents in this case. Here, the only interest significantly served by disclosure is the personal interest of the plaintiff, who seeks information for use in a collateral challenge to his conviction.
In Brown v. FBI, 658 F.2d 71 (2d Cir. 1981), the Court of Appeals held that under FOIA Exemption 6, which also requires an evaluation of the public interest in disclosure,
"It must be remembered that it is the interest of the general public, and not that of the private litigant, that must be considered." Id. at 75 (citation omitted). The Court found that no such public interest is necessarily involved when a person requesting information seeks the information for the purpose of collaterally attacking a criminal conviction:
Plaintiff states in his brief that he is pursuing this litigation hoping to obtain evidence sufficient to mount a collateral attack on his kidnapping conviction. That this is plaintiff's primary purpose will not necessarily prevent disclosure if there is a coincidental public purpose sufficient to overcome Ms. Shepardson's privacy interest. The court, however, cannot allow the plaintiff's personal interest to enter into the weighing or balancing process. "The FOIA is not intended to be an administrative discovery statute for the benefit of private parties." Columbia Packing Co. v. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, 417 F. Supp. 651, 655 (D. Mass. 1976).