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United States v. Barnett

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington

May 8, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
ROBERT H. BARNETT, Defendant-Petitioner.

MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

JOSEPH M. HOOD, Senior District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Defendant-Petitioner Barnett's "Motion Seeking Relief From the Order Dismissing Requestors Freedom of Information/PA Act Request Pursuant to Title 5 U.S.C.C. § 552 [and] for Court Filing Fees Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(5)" [DE 131]. In his motion, Defendant advises that he is "requesting any and all information maintained within the U.S. attorney's files... as to all requests specifically [as to him]self & Johnny Pennington as requested within all Justice Department requests for F.O.I.A./PA requests." He attaches several documents related to Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA") requests that he has made since the beginning of this calendar year. The United States has filed its Response [DE 132], stating its objections. Having considered the motion and the objections, the Court is adequately informed without awaiting a reply. The motion will be denied for the reasons stated below.

Barnett improperly demands relief regarding his FOIA requests in this criminal case. Rather, if appropriate, he may seek relief only by filing a civil complaint in the appropriate district court. See 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(B) ("On complaint, the district court... has jurisdiction to enjoin the agency from withholding agency records and to order the production of any agency records improperly withheld from the complainant."). Pursuant to § 552(a)(4)(B), "[a] plaintiff may bring a private cause of action under the FOIA in federal court upon a showing that an agency has improperly withheld its records." Sneed v. U.S. Dep't of Labor, 14 F.Appx. 343, 345 (6th Cir. 2001) (citing Kissinger v. Reporters Comm. for Freedom of the Press, 445 U.S. 136, 150 (1980)). District courts have jurisdiction under FOIA to devise remedies only "under the jurisdictional grant conferred by § 552." Alley v. U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, 590 F.3d 1195, 1203 (11th Cir. 2009) (quoting Kissinger, 445 U.S. at 150)). Therefore, Barnett's motion must be denied.

To the extent that Barnett is actually seeking reconsideration of the Magistrate Judge's Order of March 26, 2014 [DE 119], his request is untimely. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a) (providing 14-day period in which to file objections). Further, even if the Court were to excuse its untimeliness, it is without merit. The Magistrate Judge has correctly stated the law: "a post-conviction petitioner is not entitled to discovery as of right, nor is such a petitioner entitled to conduct a fishing expedition in order to search for potentially viable claims. Instead, a petitioner must present specific allegations of fact before a court may order discovery to commence. See, e.g., Williams v. Bagley, 380 F.3d 932, 974 (6th Cir. 2004)." [DE 119 at 1.] Accordingly, he may not obtain relief upon reconsideration.

Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that Petitioner's "Motion Seeking Relief From the Order Dismissing Requestors Freedom of Information/PA Act Request Pursuant to Title 5 U.S.C.C. § 552 [and] for Court Filing Fees Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(5)" [DE 131] is DENIED.


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