American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California; Asian Law Caucus; San Francisco Bay Guardian, Plaintiffs-Appellees,
Federal Bureau of Investigation, Defendant-Appellant.
and Submitted October 19, 2017 San Francisco, California
from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of California No. 3:10-cv-03759-RS, Richard Seeborg,
District Judge, Presiding
E. Flentje (argued) and H. Thomas Byron III, Appellate Staff;
Brian Stretch, United States Attorney; Civil Division, United
States Department of Justice, San Francisco, California; for
Elaine Kleine (argued), Jacob P. Ewerdt, and Somnath Raj
Chatterjee, Morrison & Foerster LLP, San Francisco,
California; Christina Sinha, Asian Americans Advancing
Justice - Asian Law Caucus, San Francisco, California; Lynda
Lye and Julia Harumi Mass, American Civil Liberties Union
Foundation of Northern California Inc., San Francisco,
California; for Plaintiffs-Appellees.
Before: Sandra S. Ikuta and Andrew D. Hurwitz, Circuit
Judges, and James S. Gwin, [*] District Judge.
of Information Act
panel vacated the district court's summary judgment that
was entered in favor of the plaintiffs who had submitted
Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA") requests to the
Federal Bureau of Investigation; and remanded for further
7 of FOIA governs disclosure of records or information
complied for law enforcement purposes.
panel held that for generalized records, such as training
manuals and guidelines, the government's burden under
Exemption 7 of demonstrating that withheld materials were
"complied for law enforcement purposes" can be
satisfied without linking the documents to the enforcement of
a particular statute. The panel further held that the agency
need only establish a rational nexus between the withheld
document and its authorized law enforcement activities. If
such a showing is made, the district court can then determine
whether disclosure would cause any of the specific harms
identified in Exemptions 7(A)-(F), 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(7)(A)-(F).
The panel expressed no opinion as to whether the documents at
issue in this case met the Exemption 7 threshold, nor whether
those that do are protected from disclosure under Exemption
7(A)-(F). The panel remanded for the district court to make
such determinations in the first instance.
HURWITZ, Circuit Judge
case requires us to once again construe Exemption 7 of the
Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"), 5 U.S.C.
§ 552(b)(7), which governs disclosure of "records
or information compiled for law enforcement purposes."
analyzing FOIA requests to law enforcement agencies for
disclosure of investigatory materials, we have long held that
the government need only show a "rational nexus"
between enforcement of federal law and a withheld document to
invoke Exemption 7. See, e.g., Rosenfeld v. U.S.
Dep't of Justice, 57 F.3d 803, 808 (9th Cir. 1995).
But, we have not yet decided whether the same standard
governs requests for more generalized records, such as
training manuals and guidelines.
today hold that for such records, the government's burden
under Exemption 7 of demonstrating that withheld materials
were "compiled for law enforcement purposes" can be
satisfied without linking the ...