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Moore v. United States Probation

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division

February 7, 2017

RICHARD MOORE PLAINTIFF
v.
UNITED STATES PROBATION, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, VALRIE PETERS, United States Probation Officer, SHERIFF LEO MASK, and DEPUTY PATTERSON DEFENDANTS RICHARD MOORE PLAINTIFF
v.
PONTOTOC COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT and LEO MASK DEFENDANTS RICHARD MOORE PLAINTIFF
v.
UNITED STATES PROBATION, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, and LORETTA LYNCH DEFENDANTS

          ORDER AND ADVISORY TO PLAINTIFF

          LOUIS GUIROLA, JR. CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court sua sponte. Having reviewed the filings of Plaintiff Richard Moore and as noted below in the above-captioned cases, the Court is of the opinion that Plaintiff's Complaints in Cause Nos. 3:16cv279 an 3:16cv280 fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Accordingly, the Court will order Plaintiff to show cause within fourteen (14) days of the date of this Order why those actions should not be dismissed. Additionally, the Court is of the opinion that many of the claims stated in this lead action, No. 1:16cv148, do not state a claim upon which relief may be granted, and, thus, will order Plaintiff to show cause within fourteen (14) days why those claims should not also be dismissed. Finally, the Court will cancel the Spears hearing currently set for March 7, 2017, as discussed herein, and will reschedule that hearing at a later date should the Court deem it necessary to do so.

         Cause No. 3:16cv279 against the Pontotoc County Sheriff's Department and Leo Mask

         In Cause No. 3:16cv279, Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief against the Pontotoc County Sheriff's Department and Sheriff Leo Mask for the production of records pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. However, the Sheriff's Department “is not subject to the provisions of FOIA.” See Barouch v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, 962 F.Supp.2d 30, 46 (D.D.C. 2013); see also, e.g., Zaldivar v. U.S. Dep't of Veterans Affairs, No. CV-14-1493-PHX-DGC (MEA), 2014 WL 7359107, at *5 (D. Ariz. Dec. 24, 2014) (“To the extent that Plaintiff asserts a FOIA claim against Pima County, he fails to state a claim. FOIA applies to federal agencies and does not apply to Pima County or other state agencies or departments.”). Sheriff Mask is not a subject to the provisions of FOIA, either. See, e.g., Batton v. Evers, 598 F.3d 169, 173 n.1 (5th Cir. 2010) (“A FOIA plaintiff may not assert a claim against an individual . . . .”); Benavides v. U.S. Marshals Serv., 990 F.2d 625, *3 (5th Cir. 1993) (“[T]he dismissal of [a plaintiff]'s claims against [the individual defendants] was proper because suit cannot be brought under the FOIA against an individual.”); Drake v. Obama, 664 F.3d 774, 785-86 (9th Cir. 2011) (“We agree with the District Court that FOIA does not apply to any of the Defendants because they are all individuals . . . .”) (collecting cases).

         To the extent Plaintiff alleges violations of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), FOIA is a part of the APA. See U.S. Dep't of Justice v. Reporters Comm. For Freedom of Press, 489 U.S. 749, 754 (1989). Because Plaintiff does not have a valid FOIA claim against these defendants, he does not have an APA claim against them, either.

         Accordingly, the Court orders Plaintiff to show cause in writing within fourteen days (14) days of this Order why his claims in Cause No. 3:16cv279 should not be dismissed or to otherwise notify the Court if he wants to voluntarily dismiss Cause No. 3:16cv279. PLAINTIFF IS CAUTIONED THAT FAILURE TO DO SO OR TO OTHERWISE TIMELY RESPOND TO THIS ORDER COULD RESULT IN DISMISSAL OF CAUSE NO. 3:16CV279 WITHOUT FURTHER NOTICE.

         Cause No. 3:16cv280 against the United States Probation Office, the Department of Justice, and Loretta Lynch

         In Cause No. 3:16cv280, Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief against the United States Probation Office, the Department of Justice (DOJ), and Loretta Lynch under FOIA and the APA for a FOIA request he made to the Probation Office. Once again, Plaintiff cannot sustain a FOIA claim against the defendants. “The United States Probation Office is an arm of the federal courts. As such, it is not subject to FOIA . . . and [P]laintiff's claims against it cannot be maintained.” Banks v. Dep't of Justice, 538 F.Supp.2d 228, 231-32 (D.D.C. 2008); see also, e.g., DeMartino v. F.B.I., 511 F.Supp.2d 146, 148 (D.D.C. 2007) (“As a court unit, the Probation Office is not subject to the requirements of the FOIA . . . .”) (dismissing complaint); United States v. Chandler, 220 F.Supp.2d 165, 167-68 (E.D.N.Y. 2002) (“the Probation Department is exempt from the disclosure requirements of the FOIA”); Pena v. U.S. Dep't of Probation, No. 06 CV 2481 NG LB, 2006 WL 2806383, at *1 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 28, 2006) (“The Probation Department, an administrative unit of the judiciary, is not subject to the disclosure obligations of FOIA.”). Furthermore, Ms. Lynch is not subject to the provisions of FOIA for the same reasons discussed above related to FOIA claims against individuals. See, e.g., Batton, 598 F.3d at 173 n.1; Benavides, 990 F.2d at *3.

         Plaintiff's only basis for suing the DOJ is his assertion that “United States Probation is a component of the” DOJ. (See Compl. 1-2, ECF No. 1 in Cause No. 3:16cv280). There is no indication that Plaintiff sent a separate FOIA request to the DOJ, which likely would not have access to the documents at issue anyway. Because Plaintiff cannot sustain a claim against the Probation Office, his claim against the DOJ necessarily fails. Even so, there is no allegation that Plaintiff exhausted his administrative remedies even if he had sent a request to the DOJ. See Hedley v. United States, 594 F.2d 1043, 1044 (5th Cir. 1979 (FOIA requires “that a party must present proof of exhaustion of administrative remedies prior to seeking judicial review”); Banks, 538 F.Supp.2d 232-33 (discussing administrative exhaustion under FOIA); see also Wells v. U.S. Dep't of Educ., No. 09-456-JJB-CN, 2009 WL 2475434, at *2 (M.D. La. Aug. 12, 2009) (“Finally, it has been held that, where a plaintiff fails to allege that he has exhausted his administrative remedies prior to filing suit under the FOIA, the plaintiff has failed to state a claim.”).[1]

         Plaintiff also cannot sustain any APA claim for the same reasons discussed above with respect to Cause No. 3:16cv279. Accordingly, the Court orders Plaintiff to show cause in writing within fourteen days (14) days of this Order why his claims in Cause No. 3:16cv280 should not be dismissed or to otherwise notify the Court if he wants to voluntarily dismiss Cause No. 3:16cv280. PLAINTIFF IS CAUTIONED THAT FAILURE TO DO SO OR TO OTHERWISE TIMELY RESPOND TO THIS ORDER COULD RESULT IN DISMISSAL OF CAUSE

         NO. 3:16CV280 WITHOUT FURTHER NOTICE.

         Cause No. 1:16cv148 against United States Probation, United States Department of Justice, United State Probation Officer Valrie Peters, Sheriff Leo Mask, and Deputy Patterson

         Plaintiff also filed a “Complaint for Violation of Civil Rights Under 42 U.S.C. § 1983” against United States Probation, United States Department of Justice, and United States Probation Officer Valrie Peters. He later amended his Complaint to include Sheriff Leo Mask and Deputy Patterson of the Pontotoc County Sheriff's Office.

         I. Defendants United States Probation, the ...


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