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Booking Photos Not Subject to Disclosure Under FOIA

The U.S. Marshals Service does not have to turn over mug shot photos in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, U.S. District Judge Paul C. Huck ruled December 14, 2009.

Theodore Karanstalis, a freelance reporter, submitted a FOIA request to the U.S. Marshals Service for copies of Luis Giro’s mugshots. Giro is currently in federal prison for securities fraud.

The Marshals Service refused to release Giro’s mug shots on the basis that doing so would constitute an unwarranted invasion of Giro’s privacy. Karanstalis sued.

In rejecting Karanstalis’s suit, the Court held that a “booking photograph is a unique and powerful type of photograph that raises personal privacy issues distinct from normal photographs.” As such, the Court concluded, Giro had a “substantial personal privacy interest in preventing public dissemination of his non-public booking photographs.” Summary judgment was accordingly granted for the Marshals Service. See: Karanstalis v. U.S. Department of Justice, No. 09-CV-22910 (S.D. Fl. 2009)

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Related legal case

Karanstalis v. U.S. Department of Justice