redaction or withholding of such documents was authorized under Exemption
7(D) of FOIA.
3. Exemption 7(F)
Under Exemption 7(F), documents may be exempted from disclosure if they
are "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 endanger the life or
physical safety of any individual." 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(7)(F). The
Government is entitled to invoke this exemption where the safety of the
individual in question would be jeopardized if his or her identity were
revealed. See, e.g., Malizia v. United States Dep't of Justice,
519 F. Supp. 338, 351 (S.D.N.Y. 1981) (withholding of agents' identities
proper where revelation of information could "unnecessarily jeopardize"
the agents' lives). In this case, the FBI invoked this exemption, in
conjunction with other exemptions, for approximately 15 pages of the 421
pages of documents at issue, see Gov't Stat., ¶ 27, to withhold three
limited categories of information: the names, signatures or other
identifying information concerning FBI Special Agents who were
responsible for conducting, supervising, and/or maintaining this
investigation; the names or other identifying information concerning
non-FBI government agents; and the names and/or identifying information
concerning private citizens and third parties who provided information to
the FBI concerning the criminal activities of plaintiff. Hodes Decl.
The Hodes Declaration notes that the "primary concern of the FBI in the
reviewing and releasing of documents involving [Garcia] is the
possibility of harassment and potential violent retaliation against
sources of information." Hodes Decl. ¶ 54. With respect to each
category, the Hodes Declaration notes that "[d]isclosure of the
identities of these individuals could immediately endanger their
families, lives and physical safety." Id. ¶¶ 55-57.
The same reasons that underlay the applicability of Exemption 7(D) in
this case (with regard to confidential source information) also justify
the applicability of Exemption 7(F). Garcia has a history of retaliation
against individuals who have provided information about him to law
enforcement agencies: specifically, his conviction for conspiring to
murder a witness in the robbery case against him. See Exhibits D, F to
Kennedy Declaration. In evaluating the validity of an agency's invocation
of Exemption 7(F), the court should "within limits, defer to the agency's
assessment of danger." See Linn v. Dep't of Justice, 1995 WL 631847, at
*9 (D.D.C. Aug. 22, 1995) (citing Gardels v. CIA, 689 F.2d 1100,
1104-1105 (D.C. Cir. 1982)). The Government's evidence of Garcia's
violent criminal history and propensity for retaliation is sufficient to
support its invocation of Exemption 7(F), and this Court will defer to
its assessment of danger in this case. See Linn, 1995 WL 631897, at * 9.
Accordingly, the Government properly redacted and withheld documents
pursuant to Exemption 7(F).
4. Exemption 3
Exemption 3 of FOIA exempts documents from disclosure where such
disclosure is exempted by another statute. 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(3). Fed
R. Crim P. 6(e) represents such a statute and, thus, documents related to
the grand jury process are exempt from disclosure under Exemption 3.
See, e.g., Local 32B-32J, Serv. Employees Int'l Union, AFL-CIO v. GSA,
1998 WL 726000, at *6 (S.D.N.Y. October 15, 1998) ("It is well
established that [Fed.R.Crim.P. 6(e)], which imposes a general
requirement of secrecy for information relating to the grand jury
process, qualifies as an Exemption 3 withholding statute")
(citing cases); accord McDonnell v. United States, 4 F.3d 1227, 1246-47
(3d Cir. 1993); Fund for Constitutional Gov't v. Nat'l Archives and
Records Serv., 656 F.2d 856, 868 (D.C. Cir. 1981) (Rule 6(e)'s "ban on
disclosure is for FOIA purposes absolute and falls within subpart (A) of
Exemption 3"); Malizia, 519 F. Supp. at 345-46; Hiss v. Dep't of
Justice, 441 F. Supp. 69, 70 (S.D.N.Y. 1977).
The Government withheld two documents pursuant to Exemption 3, see
Gov't Stat. ¶ 27, because the information constituted grand jury
materials. Hodes Decl. ¶ 35. Accordingly, the two documents in
question were properly withheld pursuant to Exemption 3.
For the foregoing reasons, the Government's motion for summary judgment
is granted in its entirety. Judgement shall be entered dismissing the
*fn2 Garcia denies his guilt in these cases, stating that he was a
victim of a "miscarriage of justice." See Plaintiff's
Rule 56.1 Statement, dated March 31, 2001, ¶ 4. Garcia, however, is
collaterally estopped from further litigating this issue as he was
convicted in both cases. See, e.g., Gelb v. Royal Globe Ins. Co.,
798 F.2d 38, 43 (2d Cir. 1986) ("the criminal defendant is barred [by
collateral estoppel] from relitigating any issue determined adversely to
him in the criminal proceeding. . . .") (citations omitted); United
States v. Podell, 572 F.2d 31, 35 (2d Cir. 1978) ("a criminal
conviction, whether by jury verdict or guilty plea, constitutes estoppel
in favor of the United States in a subsequent civil proceeding as to
those matters determined by the judgment in the criminal case").
*fn3 A final category of redactions was names of individuals who
supplied information under an express or implied grant of
confidentiality. Hodes Decl. ¶¶ 41-42. This category is discussed
further infra with respect to Exemption (b)(7)(D).
*fn4 Garcia's allegations of improprieties relating to the investigation
of his conduct do not alter this analysis. It is established that "once
the government has demonstrated that the records were compiled in the
course of an investigation conducted by a law enforcement agency, the
purpose or legitimacy of such executive action are not proper subjects for
judicial review." Halpern, 181 F.3d at 296 (2d Cir. 1999); accord
Ferguson v. FBI, 957 F.2d 1059, 1070 (2d Cir. 1992); Williams v. FBI,
730 F.2d 882, 883 (2d Cir. 1984).
*fn5 While Hodes states that Garcia was "charged with intimidating a
witness who was scheduled to testify at his trial," Hodes Decl. ¶
50, Garcia's conviction record shows that he was convicted of conspiracy
to murder a witness who testified at his trial (namely, Lisa Seymour, who
was the co-perpetrator of the armed robbery that formed the basis for his
robbery conviction). See Kennedy Decl., Exhibits D and F. If anything,
the conviction for conspiracy to murder provides an even stronger basis
for concluding that Garcia represents a danger to witnesses who provide
adverse information about him.