LOVE v. NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS et al
LETTER ORDER/OPINION granting 136 Motion for Clarification of the Court's 9/11/17 Order ; denying 145 Motion for Protective Order; etc. Signed by Magistrate Judge Steven C. Mannion on 10/26/17. (DD, ) N/M
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
Martin Luther King Jr, Federal Bldg.
& U.S. Courthouse
50 Walnut Street
Newark, NJ 07102
STEVEN C. MANNION
United States Magistrate Judge
October 26, 2017
D.E. 136, 145
Love v. New Jersey Dep’t of Corrections, et al.
Civil Action No. 15cv4404 (SDW)(SCM)
Before this Court is a Motion for Clarification of the Court’s August 11, 2017 Order and
Opinion as well as a Motion for Protective Order by Defendants, Robert Wasik, Gerard Doyle,
Ruben Morales, and Patrick Nogan (“State Defendants”).1
The August 11, 2017 Opinion concerned invocation of law enforcement privilege, a form
of executive privilege. The Order required “that any application by Defendants for a protective
order shall comply with O’Neill, Pansy, and Torres . . . .”2 With their Motion for Clarification, the
State Defendants wish the Court to further explicate the directive that, in order to properly assert
any privilege, the State Defendants must produce “an affidavit from the agency head, as required
by O’Neill.”3 Subsequent to the September 14, 2017 settlement conference, and at the Court’s
direction, the State Defendants filed a brief arguing that “although in some case decisions the ‘top’
(ECF Docket Entry No. (“D.E.”) 136, 145).
(D.E. 134, Op. and Order, at 31).
(D.E. 136 at 14).
official was the person proffered to [ ] certify” law enforcement privilege, “the case law does not
support that less senior officials are unqualified to do so.”4
The State Defendants’ brief cites Zappulla, Pack, and Williams to support their proffer of
alternative officials.5 In Zappulla, the court’s decision was based on an in camera review of six
disputed memoranda which were part of a larger file containing inmate housing information, not
unlike that requested here, but that also contained “intra-department memoranda . . . reflecting the
course and substance of investigations . . . concerning possible threats by plaintiff to the security
of the prison.”6 The Zappulla court granted access to the file overall, with the limited exception of
those particularly sensitive memoranda. Further, the rationale in Zappulla included an extensive
limiting paragraph which is instructive in the case currently at bar:
The rationale for the law-enforcement privilege is “to prevent disclosure of law
enforcement techniques and procedures, to preserve the confidentiality of sources,
to protect witness[es] and law enforcement personnel, to safeguard the privacy of
individuals involved in an investigation, and otherwise to prevent interference with
an investigation.” In re Dep't of Investigation of City of N.Y., 856 F.2d 481, 484
(2d Cir.1988); see also Kitevski v. City of New York, 2006 WL 680527, at *2-3
(S.D.N.Y. Mar. 16, 2006). The law-enforcement privilege, like other related
privileges, offers only conditional protection and may be set aside upon an adequate
showing of need. See, e.g., Kunstler v. City of New York, 2005 WL 2656117, at
*1 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 18, 2005); Fountain v. City of New York, 2004 WL 941242, at
*4 (S.D.N.Y. May 3, 2004) (stating that unlike the state secrets privilege, the
“official information privilege ... is not absolute”) (citing Kelly v. City of San Jose,
114 F.R.D. 653, 668 (N.D. Cal.1987)). In weighing the discovering party's claimed
need for the documents, the court necessarily must engage in a balancing of “the
(D.E. 146, Defs.’ Br., at 2).
Zappulla v. Horn, No. 07CIV.7709LBSMHD, 2008 WL 2627622, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. July 1,
2008); Pack v. Breyer, 157 F.R.D. 226 (D.N.J 1994); Williams v. Walker, No. CIV S-072385WBSGGHP, 2009 WL 5199227 (E.D. Cal. Dec. 22, 2009).
Zappulla, 2008 WL 2627622 at *2 (emphasis added).
interests favoring and disfavoring disclosure.” King v. Conde, 121 F.R.D. 180, 19091 (E.D.N.Y. 1988).7
Likewise, law enforcement privilege was invoked in Pack only after balancing the likelihood that
the information obtained would be pertinent to plaintiff’s case with the court’s finding that the
information obtained in the discovery “would present a clear and present danger to individuals
both inside and outside the prison” by specifically revealing information pertaining to
investigations and confidential informant practices.8
The State Defendants seek to obtain a protective order, invoking privilege for a number of
Mr. Love’s discovery demands.9 The procedural requirements for invoking executive privilege
requires “a formal claim of privilege, lodged by the head of the department which has control over
the matter, after actual personal consideration by that officer.”10 The Third Circuit has extended
this requirement to other forms of executive privilege.11
In a case involving the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, the Chisler court held that
executive privilege was properly invoked by the “head of the Department of Corrections.” 12 The
equivalent New Jersey official is Commissioner Gary M. Lanigan, who heads the New Jersey
Department of Corrections.13 Scott Paper Co. upheld a magistrate judge’s determination that under
Id. at *1–2.
Pack v. Breyer, 157 F.R.D. 226, 232 (D.N.J 1994).
(D.E. 136-2, Defs.’ Br. in Supp. of Mot. for Clarification, at 8).
United States v. Reynolds, 345 U.S. 1, 73 S. Ct. 528, 97 L. Ed. 727 (1953).
See U.S. v. O’Neill, 619 F.2d 222, 226 (3d Cir.1980).
Chisler v. Johnston, 796 F. Supp. 2d 632, 638 (W.D. Pa. 2011).
Gary M. Lanigan, New Jersey Department of Corrections Commissioner,
O’Neill an agency head could not even delegate authority to invoke privilege.14 That case,
however, noted that “even in jurisdictions that allow delegation, the delegation must be
accompanied by detailed guidelines regarding the use of the privilege.”15 Williams, as cited by the
State Defendants, was such a case and stated that “[f]or purposes of prisoner litigation, the warden,
assistant warden or appropriately delegated prison officials should be sufficient.”16
The State Defendants have not provided evidence of delegation by Commissioner Lanigan
or any higher authority. Therefore, the Court need not decide today whether a delegation would
satisfy the requirements of Reynolds and O’Neill. For now, the Court finds that Commissioner
Lanigan is the appropriate official to invoke any executive privilege for the New Jersey
Department of Corrections.
The State Defendants further submit that compliance with Mr. Love’s requests would be
unduly burdensome, particularly with regard to officer-specific inmate complaints.17 Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 26(c)(1) provides that “[t]he court may, for good cause, issue an order to protect
a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense[.]”
The party seeking a protective order bears the burden of showing good cause for the issuance of a
protective order "by demonstrating a particular need for protection [and] [b]road allegations of
Scott Paper Co. v. United States, 943 F. Supp. 501, 502 (E.D. Pa. 1996) (requiring IRS
Commissioner to invoke privilege).
Scott Paper Co. v. United States, 943 F. Supp. 501, 503 (E.D. Pa. 1996) (citing Martin v.
Albany Business Journal, Inc., 780 F. Supp. 927, 934 (N.D.N.Y.1992); Mobil Oil Corp. v.
Department of Energy, 520 F. Supp. 414, 416 (N.D.N.Y.1981)).
Williams v. Walker, 2009 WL 5199227, at *7 (E.D. Cal. Dec. 22, 2009); (D.E. 146, Defs.’ Br.,
(D.E. 145-2, Defs.’ Br. in Supp. of Protective Order, at 6–7).
harm, unsubstantiated by specific examples or articulated reasoning, do not satisfy the Rule 26(c)
Before a court will entertain a party’s objection on burdensome grounds, the party asserting
the objection must submit an affidavit or evidence revealing the nature of the burden. 19 State
Defendants contend that in order to comply with Mr. Love’s requests, “prison staff at EJSP would
have to manually search approximately 20,000 paper forms and 24,000 J-Pay submissions.”20 In
support of this position, State Defendants have submitted affidavits detailing the ways in which
inmate complaints are properly filed, stored, and retained.21 Describing the nature of
documentation, limited staff capacity, and volume of record review necessary is “not alone
sufficient to establish an undue burden necessary to prevent discovery.”22 Hence, the Court finds
the State Defendants have not adequately demonstrated Mr. Love’s discovery requests constitute
For the foregoing reasons, the State Defendant’s Motion for Protective Order is denied.
Pansy v. Borough of Stroudsburg, 23 F.3d 772, 786 (3d Cir. 1994) (citing Fed. R. Civ. P.
26(c)); Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., 785 F.2d 1108, 1121 (3d Cir. 1986) (citing United
States v. Garrett, 571 F.2d 1323, 1326, n. 3 (5th Cir. 1978).
Valentin v. Sch. Dist. of Philadelphia, No. 2:11-cv-4027, 2012 WL 676993, at *2 n. 2 (E.D.
Pa. Mar. 1, 2012).
(D.E. 145-2, Defs.’ Br. in Supp. of Protective Order, at 7).
Reid v. Cumberland Cty., 34 F. Supp. 3d 396, 414 (D.N.J. 2013) (finding 140 hours of staff
time is not an undue burden on the county); see also Thomas v. Cate, 715 F. Supp. 2d 1012, 1033
(E.D. Cal. 2010) (finding 111 hours of data review does not constitute undue burden on the
state); Azimi v. U.P.S., Inc., 2007 WL 2010937 at *7-8 (D. Kan. 2007) (holding an estimated 100
hours and two months insufficient to establish burden); Beach v. City of Olathe, 203 F.R.D. 489,
493–94 (D. Kan. 2001) (overruling objection to discovery that would take “at least hundreds of
However, with regard to Mr. Love’s Interrogatories #15 and 18 concerning the number of
cameras… in parts of the facility, the Court did not order the State Defendants to disclose that
information. Instead, the Court ruled that “[a]ny video of the incident in the prison canteen or the
subsequent events included in the facts set forth above shall be made available to Mr. Love.”23
Also, with regard to Mr. Love’s Interrogatory #16, the State Defendants’ further response
shall be limited to the names of prisoners housed on D-1-E that witnessed the “strip search.”
IT IS SO ORDERED.
10/26/2017 11:23:45 AM
Original: Clerk of the Court
Hon. Susan D. Wigenton, U.S.D.J.
cc: All parties
Mr. Lemont Love
East Jersey State Prison
Rahway, NJ 07065
(D.E. 134, Letter Opinion at 27-28).
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