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United States of America v. Golden Valley Electric

August 7, 2012

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,
v.
GOLDEN VALLEY ELECTRIC ASSOCIATION, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Alaska Ralph R. Beistline, Chief District Judge, Presiding D.C. No. 3:11-mc-00002-RRB

The opinion of the court was delivered by: W. Fletcher, Circuit Judge:

FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

Argued and Submitted June 28, 2012-Fairbanks, Alaska

Before: Alfred T. Goodwin, William A. Fletcher, and Milan D. Smith, Jr., Circuit Judges.

Opinion by Judge William A. Fletcher

OPINION

The United States petitioned the district court for an order enforcing a Drug Enforcement Administration ("DEA") subpoena served on Golden Valley Electric Association ("Golden Valley") for power consumption records concerning three customer residences. The court granted the petition and ordered compliance. Golden Valley complied with the subpoena but appealed the order. We hold that the appeal is not moot and affirm on the merits.

I. Background

Golden Valley is a member-owned cooperative providing electricity to roughly 44,000 meters in Fairbanks and other localities in the interior of Alaska. In late 2010, the DEA was investigating suspected violations of the Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. § 801 et seq., by several of Golden Valley's customers. As part of its investigation, the DEA served an administrative subpoena on Golden Valley pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 876(a). The subpoena ordered Golden Valley to provide company records pertaining to electricity consumption at three specified customer addresses. The records subpoenaed were: customer information including full name, address, telephone number, and any account information for customer; method of payment (credit card, debit card, cash, check) with card number and account information; to include power consumption records and date(s) service was initiated and terminated for the period 10-01-2009 through 12-14-2010, if applicable[.]

Golden Valley did not immediately comply with the subpoena.

The government petitioned the district court pursuant to § 876(c) for an order enforcing its subpoena. Golden Valley opposed the petition, primarily relying on a company policy of protecting the confidentiality of its members' records. The district court granted the petition to enforce the subpoena.

Golden Valley timely appealed the district court's order. It has now complied with the subpoena, but it has not dismissed its appeal.

II. Standard of Review

We review de novo an appeal from an order enforcing an administrative subpoena. EEOC v. Fed. Express Corp., 558 F.3d 842, 846 (9th Cir. 2009). We review a question of mootness de novo. ...


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