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Final Decision FIC2013-347
In the Matter of a Complaint by
FINAL DECISION
Ronald Prisley,
     Complainant
     against
Docket #FIC 2013-347
Executive Director, State of Connecticut,
Judicial Review Council; and State of
Connecticut, Judicial Review Council,
     Respondents
April 9, 2014

     On October 23, 2013, the respondents in the above-captioned matter moved to dismiss the complaint without hearing, pursuant to §1-206(b)(2), G.S.  The complainant objected to such motion.    However, the appeal was reviewed and decided pursuant to §1-206(b)(4), G.S., which provides that a case may be dismissed without a hearing.
     After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:
     1.  The respondents (hereinafter “the JRC”) are public agencies within the meaning of §1-200(1), G.S.
     2.  Section 1-206(b)(4), G.S., provides that:
[n]otwithstanding any provision of this subsection to the contrary, in the case of an appeal to the commission of a denial by a public agency, the commission may, upon motion of such agency, confirm the action of the agency and dismiss the appeal without a hearing if it finds, after examining the notice of appeal and construing all allegations most favorably to the appellant, that (A) the agency has not violated the Freedom of Information Act, or (B) the agency has committed a technical violation of the Freedom of Information Act that constitutes a harmless error that does not infringe the appellant's rights under said act.
     3.  The notice of appeal in this matter alleges that the JRC violated the Freedom of Information Act by denying the complainant's request, postmarked May 30, 2013, for copies of any and all information on the conflict of interest filed by the complainant with the respondents against a named judge, including his administrative appeal denial and the “no probable cause finding.”
     4.  Section 1-210(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that:
[e]xcept as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute, all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency, whether or not such records are required by any law or by any rule or regulation, shall be public records and every person shall have the right to inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours or to receive a copy of such records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-212a. 
     5.  Section 1-212(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that “[a]ny person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain, facsimile, electronic or certified copy of any public record. The type of copy provided shall be within the discretion of the public agency, except (1) the agency shall provide a certified copy whenever requested, and (2) if the applicant does not have access to a computer or facsimile machine, the public agency shall not send the applicant an electronic or facsimile copy.”
     6.  The JRC contends that the requested records, as described in paragraph 3, above, are exempt from mandatory disclosure pursuant to §51-51l(a), G.S.
     7.  Section 51-51l, G.S., provides in relevant part that:
"(a)...the Judicial Review Council shall investigate every written complaint brought before it alleging conduct under section 51-51i, and may initiate an investigation of any judge...if (1) the council has reason to believe conduct under section 51-51i has occurred or (2) previous complaints indicate a pattern of behavior which would lead to a reasonable belief that conduct under section 51-51i has occurred....Any investigation to determine whether or not there is probable cause that conduct under section 51-51i has occurred shall be confidential and any individual called by the council for the purpose of providing information shall not disclose his knowledge of such investigation to a third party prior to the decision of the council on whether probable cause exists, unless the respondent requests that such investigation and disclosure be open, provided information known or obtained independently of any such investigation shall not be confidential.... 

(c) If a preliminary investigation indicates that probable cause exists that the judge...is guilty of conduct under section 51-51i, the council shall hold a hearing concerning the conduct or complaint. All hearings held pursuant to this subsection shall be open....The council shall make a record of all proceedings pursuant to this subsection. The council shall not later than thirty days after the close of such hearing publish its findings together with a memorandum of its reasons therefor." 
     8.  The Commission previously interpreted §51-51l(a), G.S., in  K. Joy Banach v. Executive Director, State of Connecticut, Judicial Review Council, Docket #FIC 2003-126 (December 10, 2003), in which the respondent director argued at the hearing in that matter, that §51-51l(a), G.S., exempts the  requested records in their entirety.  In Banach, the complainant requested from the JRC, all documents related to a complaint she had filed with the JRC against a judge, including a copy of the judge's response to her complaint, telephone logs of communications between the judge and the JRC, and "minutes or comments of the council related to the...complaint against the judge." The Commission dismissed the complaint without a hearing, concluding that the requested records were exempt from disclosure pursuant to §51-51l, G.S.
     9.  See also Edward Tuccio v. Director, State of Connecticut, Judicial Review Council; and State of Connecticut, Judicial Review Council, Docket #FIC 2012-227 (2012) (Commission dismissed the appeal from the denial of a request for “all answers and any and all information provided to the Board of Judicial Review” in response to a complaint dated March 6, 2012 by four named Judges concluding that the records were exempt from disclosure pursuant to §51-51l(a), G.S.); Kimberly Lazzari and Anthony Lazzari v. State of Connecticut, Judicial Review Council, Docket #FIC2006-434 (2007) (Commission dismissed the appeal from a denial of a request for "full disclosure of records, documents, information, responses from judges, and all papers associated with [the complaints file against the named judges]" concluding that the requested records were exempt from disclosure pursuant to §51-51l(a), G.S.); and Pasquale A. DiFazio, Edith A. DiFazio and Paul T. DiFazio v. Executive Director, Judicial Review Council of the State of Connecticut and Judicial Review Council of the State of Connecticut, Docket #FIC1989-115(1990) (Commission concluded that records related to the findings of an  audiotape examiner presented to the JRC during a hearing concerning a judge were exempt from disclosure pursuant to §51-51l(a), G.S.)
     10. It is found that the requested records, described in paragraph 3, above, are records required to be kept confidential pursuant to §51-51l(a), G.S.
     11. Therefore, after consideration of the notice of appeal and construing all allegations most favorably to the complainant, the action of the respondents is confirmed and it is concluded that the respondents did not violate the Freedom of Information Act as alleged in the complaint.  
     The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
     1. The complaint is hereby dismissed without a hearing pursuant to §1-206(b)(4), G.S.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of April 9, 2014.
__________________________
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission

PURSUANT TO SECTION 4-180(c), G.S., THE FOLLOWING ARE THE NAMES OF EACH PARTY AND THE MOST RECENT MAILING ADDRESS, PROVIDED TO THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION, OF THE PARTIES OR THEIR AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE.
THE PARTIES TO THIS CONTESTED CASE ARE:
Ronald Prisley
16 Cedar Lake Road
Deep River, CT  06417
Executive Director, State of Connecticut, Judicial Review Council;
and State of Connecticut Judicial Review Council
505 Hudson Street
P.O. Box 260099
Hartford, CT  06106
____________________________
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission

FIC/2013-347/FD/cac/4/9/2014