(CN) – The State Department did not illegally conceal coin-importation regulations from collectors, a federal judge ruled.
In a 2007 complaint, three coin-collecting associations claimed that the U.S. State Department had blown off their eight requests for information on the restrictions surrounding ancient coin importation.
The collectors said the government would not reveal limitations on importing ancient coins from Cyprus, Italy and China, and it also refused to explain how the regulations were created.
Earlier the court granted summary judgment for the government, but the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild, International Association of Professional Numismatists and Professional Numismatists Guild persuaded the D.C. Circuit to order a partial reversal.
U.S. District Judge Richard Leon noted that the government fully released 70 of 128 responsive documents, and released parts of 39 documents. The other 19 documents were withheld entirely.
The appeals court took issue with just one document, which contained a series of emails.
“At issue here are redactions from a series of e-mails exchanged in January and February 2007 between a member of the private sector-the late Dr. Danielle Parks, an archeology professor-and a Bureau employee-Dr. Andrew Cohen,” Leon wrote. “This court finds, based on the evidence provided by State, that there was a demonstrated expectation of confidentiality between the parties and that the redacted portions of the e-mails have been appropriately withheld under exemption.”
Concluding that the State Department properly withheld parts of this document, Leon also found that it conducted an adequate search for responsive email records.”
“Beginning in October 2009, the State Department implemented an electronic backup system that retains bureau e-mail communications from only the preceding six months,” Leon wrote. “Any e-mail communication deleted more than six months prior to the time of a FOIA request search would not be retrievable. As such, a renewed search for responsive e-mails in this system would reveal no additional communications not previously uncovered in the initial FOIA searches, and, therefore, is unwarranted.”
“Thus, this court finds that the State Department conducted a search reasonably calculated to uncover all the e-mail records responsive to the plaintiffs’ FOIA requests,” the decision states.