Unpublished Disposition, 930 F.2d 27 (9th Cir. 1991)

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U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit - 930 F.2d 27 (9th Cir. 1991)

Donald R. HUENE, Annette S. Huene, Plaintiffs-Appellants,v.UNITED STATES of America, Internal Revenue Service,Defendants-Appellees.

No. 89-15489.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.

Argued and Submitted Feb. 11, 1991.Decided March 21, 1991.

Before FLETCHER, WILLIAM A. NORRIS and TROTT, Circuit Judges.


Plaintiffs-taxpayers appeal the district court's judgment in favor of the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") in appellants' Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA") suit. Appellants also request that the IRS be adjudged in contempt of court for its conduct in this case. We affirm the district court's judgment, and deny appellants' sanctions request.

In reviewing a district court's judgment under the FOIA, this court "must determine whether the district judge had an adequate factual basis for his or her decision and, if so, [ ] must determine whether the decision below was clearly erroneous." National Wildlife Federation v. United States Forest Service, 861 F.2d 1114, 1116 (9th Cir. 1988) (internal quotations and citation omitted). The district court's in camera inspection of the documents submitted by appellants satisfies the requirement that the district court have an adequate factual basis for its decision. See id. (court inspection of documents makes it impossible for parties reasonably to argue that court did not have adequate factual basis); Church of Scientology v. United States Department of the Army, 611 F.2d 738, 743 (9th Cir. 1979) (where court properly reviewed documents in camera, adequate factual basis for its decision existed).

Our conclusion that an adequate factual basis existed for the court's decision leads us to the second prong of the test, whether the district court's decision was clearly erroneous. The district court's decision easily survives this scrutiny. See Carter v. Veterans Administration, 780 F.2d 1479, 1481 (9th Cir. 1986) (turning over copies of requested information to requesting party moots FOIA suit for injunctive relief directing agency to turn over requested documents).

We review for abuse of discretion the district court's decision on appellants' contempt motion. See United States v. Grant, 852 F.2d 1203, 1204-05 (9th Cir. 1988). The district court found that "any failure on the part of the government to comply with the Court's order [sic] has not been willful." District Court's Memorandum Decision at 4, Excerpts of Record at 60. This finding is not clearly erroneous, and there was no abuse of discretion in the court's denial of appellants' contempt motion.



This disposition is not appropriate for publication and may not be cited to or by the courts of this circuit except as provided by Ninth Circuit Rule 36-3