This is an action under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
The plaintiff appeals not only the district court's substantive ruling as to his FOIA claim, but also several of the district court's preliminary rulings: denial of plaintiff's motion for default judgment, denial of his request for judicial notice (and request for explanation of same), denial of his motion for itemization, and denial of his jury demand. We conclude for reasons stated below that the district court did not commit reversible error as to any of these non-dispositive motions.
On July 6, 1979, the Solicitor of Labor pursuant to the plaintiff's administrative appeal sent the plaintiff the entire contents of his file except for specific deleted information that was alleged to be exempt under 5 U.S.C. §§ 552(b)(5), 7(C) and 7(D). These exemptions generally pertain to staff opinions and recommendations, names and addresses of employees and of those who supplied information to the Department of Labor. The plaintiff filed this FOIA suit in September 1979, alleging that he was entitled to the deleted material.
After the government answered, the plaintiff filed a motion for default judgment that was overruled. The government filed an affidavit by Sofia Petters of the Department of Labor that detailed the history of McCorstin's case and listed the documents, their deletions, and the specific exemptions claimed for each one. Record on Appeal 11-22.
McCorstin thereafter filed a "motion to require detailed justification, itemization and hearing." After oral argument on January
Between the district court's January 11, 1980 motion docket and its final order of February 6, 1980, the plaintiff filed a request for judicial notice under Federal Rule of Evidence 201(d) that was ordered stricken, a "request for explanation" as to why the judicial notice request was ordered stricken that was itself also ordered stricken as impertinent, and a jury demand that the trial court similarly struck as impertinent. In February 1980, the district court ordered this cause dismissed since in its view the plaintiff had received all the material he was entitled to under the FOIA.
The plaintiff initially complains because the trial court denied his motion for default judgment. Default judgment is available under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55 when a party has failed to plead or otherwise defend. The government answered on October 30, 1979. The default motion was filed on November 16, 1979. Therefore, under the controlling rule, default judgment was clearly inappropriate.
In his request for judicial notice under Federal Rule of Evidence 201, the plaintiff asked the court to take notice that Sofia Petters committed perjury in her affidavit for the Department of Labor. The rule permits the court to take judicial notice of facts "generally known within the territorial jurisdiction of the trial court or capable of accurate and ready determination by resort to sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned." An allegation of perjury clearly is not contemplated by the judicial notice rule. See generally 21 C. Wright & K. Graham, Federal Practice and Procedure §§ 5104-5106 (1977).
After the plaintiff's request for judicial notice was stricken, he filed a request for explanation of same that was itself later stricken as impertinent. Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f) the district court may sua sponte "order stricken from any pleading ... any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter." See generally 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1382 (1969). Although no court can expect the same measure of competency from pro se litigants as from lawyers trained and skilled in the law, we conclude that it was not an abuse of discretion for the trial court to order these above described pleadings stricken.
"Motion for itemization"
The plaintiff's motion for itemization filed on December 21, 1979 was properly denied. A month earlier, Petters had filed her affidavit containing the requested detailed itemization of documents and justification for deletions.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 38(b) requires that a demand for a jury trial of any issue be served within ten days after service of the "last pleading directed to such issue." If the only relevant pleadings in the case (as here) are the complaint and the answer, the demand for a jury trial must be served not later than ten days after service of the answer. See generally 9 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2320 (1971). Even assuming that there is a constitutional right to trial by jury in an action under the Freedom
The Freedom of Information Act provides access to the citizenry of most forms of government records. Essentially, the Act provides that all documents are available to the public unless specifically exempted by the Act itself. Vaughn v. Rosen, 484 F.2d 820, 821 (D.C.Cir. 1973), cert. denied, 415 U.S. 977, 94 S.Ct. 1564, 39 L.Ed.2d 873 (1974).
After our review of the administrative files, we conclude that the plaintiff received all the information to which he was entitled and that the claimed exemptions under 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(5) and (7) were proper. Those exemptions provide that the FOIA does not apply to matters that are:
Exemption 5 generally protects from disclosure the attorney work product, staff opinions and recommendations that precede a final agency decision and that are part of the agency's deliberative process. See NLRB v. Sears Roebuck, 421 U.S. 132, 154-155, 159-160, 95 S.Ct. 1504, 1518, 1521, 44 L.Ed.2d 29 (1975); EPA v. Mink, 410 U.S. 73, 89, 93 S.Ct. 827, 837, 35 L.Ed.2d 119 (1973). See also 29 C.F.R. 70.25.
Exemption 7 is designed to protect personal privacy and confidential sources. Exemption 7(C) is intended to protect the privacy of any person mentioned in the requested files, not only the person who is the object of the investigation. Exemption 7(D) protects confidential sources.
Extended discussion of each of the documents in question is infeasible here, since written analysis of each document would invariably reveal some of the exempted information. Suffice it to say that the documents in question were compiled by the department while investigating an ADEA complaint and our examination of each document indicates that the claimed exemptions were properly invoked and correctly judicially recognized.
In summary, we AFFIRM the trial court's denial of plaintiff's motion for default judgment, denial of his request for judicial notice (and request for explanation of same), denial of his motion for itemization, and denial of his jury demand. Additionally, after having reviewed the relevant documents in camera, we AFFIRM the dismissal of plaintiff's FOIA suit.