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Rosenfeld v. United States DOJ

United States District Court for the Northern District of California

March 5, 2012, Decided; March 5, 2012, Filed

No. C-07-3240 EMC



(Docket Nos. 133, 137)

Plaintiff's motion for  [*2] summary judgment and Defendants' cross-motion for summary judgment came on for hearing before the Court on February 27, 2012. For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and DENIES Defendants' cross motion for partial summary judgment. Docket Nos. 133, 137.


Plaintiff Seth Rosenfeld is a professional journalist who, over the past 30 years, has extensively researched and written about the FBI's activities in connection with the University of California during the Cold War. Docket No. 133-1 ¶ 1 ("Sixth Rosenfeld Decl."). Plaintiff has published numerous articles about the FBI's activities in the University of California during nationally prominent events in the 1950s and 1960s, including the FBI's political surveillance of University of California students and faculty, and the FBI's attempts to oust Clark Kerr as president of the University. Sixth Rosenfeld Decl. ¶ 2. These articles were based largely on FBI records released pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"). Sixth Rosenfeld Decl. ¶ 5.

Plaintiff is currently writing a book about the FBI's activities in connection with the University of California  [*3] during the Cold War that expands upon his published articles. Sixth Rosenfeld Decl. ¶ 3. To that end, Plaintiff made FOIA requests for records concerning Ronald Reagan and related persons and organizations from the date of the first record up to 1979. Sixth Rosenfeld Decl. ¶ 14. Plaintiff claims that Reagan was a FBI informant and that the FBI played an integral role in supporting Reagan's political career. Docket No. 138-1 ¶¶ 4, 6, 9 ("Seventh Rosenfeld Decl."). Plaintiff seeks information about the FBI's operations with respect to aiding Reagan's political career, and how such operations affected government policy and the exercise of First Amendment rights. Sixth Rosenfeld Decl. ¶ 14.

After the FBI failed to comply with Plaintiff's FOIA requests, Plaintiff filed suit in 2007. Sixth Rosenfeld Decl. ¶ 15. The litigation went through a Vaughn proceeding and several rounds of summary judgment, in which Judge Patel made rulings on the FBI's broad exemption claims and on the representative documents. Sixth Rosenfeld Decl. ¶ 15.

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2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28768 *; 2012 WL 710186

SETH ROSENFELD, Plaintiffs, v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, et al., Defendants.

Subsequent History: Motion granted by, Costs and fees proceeding at Rosenfeld v. United States DOJ, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 149629 (N.D. Cal., Oct. 17, 2012)

Prior History: Rosenfeld v. United States DOJ, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90445 (N.D. Cal., Aug. 31, 2010)


Exemption, privacy interest, public interest, disclosure, redacted, traffic violation, Communist, documents, investigated, records, summary judgment, public figure, informant, privacy, compiled, legitimate law enforcement purpose, law enforcement purpose, personal privacy, rap sheet, diminished, outweighed, summary judgment motion, criminal prosecution, unwarranted invasion, cross-motion, tracking, files