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Final Decision FIC2013-495
In the Matter of a Complaint by
FINAL DECISION
Edward Peruta,
     Complainant
     against
Docket #FIC 2013-495
Reuben Bradford, Commissioner,
State of Connecticut, Department
of Emergency Services and Public
Protection, Division of State Police; Paul
Mounts, Supervisor, State of
Connecticut, Department of
Emergency Services and Public
Protection, Division of State Police;
and State of Connecticut, Department
of Emergency Services and Public
Protection, Division of State Police,
     Respondents
June 11, 2014

     The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on March 5, 2014, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.  For purposes of hearing, the above-captioned matter was consolidated with Docket #FIC2013-463, Edward Peruta v. Reuben Bradford, Commissioner, State of Connecticut, Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection; and State of Connecticut, Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection; and Docket #FIC2013-499, Edward Peruta v. Reuben Bradford, Commissioner, State of Connecticut, Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, Division of State Police; and State of Connecticut, Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, Division of State Police.
     After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:
     1.  The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of §1-200(1), G.S.
     2.  By an e-mail sent on Saturday, August 10, 2013, at 9:26 a.m., the complainant made a request to the respondents for “prompt access to any e-mails received in response to [a certain] request [made by the respondents] to contributors dated May 28, 2013.”  The complainant’s request continued with “…please begin the process of preparing a complete CD/DVD of all e-mails received by you since May 28th 2013 for pick up at your office. . . I am prepared to present myself at your location at the earliest possible time to review the requested records.”  It is found that the complainant specifically requested that the records be provided on a CD.
     3.  It is found that by e-mail sent on Saturday, August 10, 2013, at 9:49 a.m., the respondents informed the complainant that his request had been forwarded to the respondent departments’ legal affairs unit.
     4.  It is found that by another e-mail sent on Sunday, August 11, 2013, at 10:44 a.m., the complainant stated among other things that he was prepared to present himself “at your unit to access the requested records anytime on Monday, August 12th between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.”  He also stated that if he was denied access on Monday, he would be forced to file a complaint with the FOI Commission seeking the maximum civil penalty.
     5.  It is found that by e-mail sent on Monday, August 12, 2013, at 9:52 a.m., the respondents acknowledged the complainant’s request and informed him that the responsive records had to be reviewed by the legal affairs unit.  The respondents also discouraged the complainant from making a trip to their offices stating that the records would not be available but offered to inform the complainant when the responsive records were compiled and ready for inspection so that he could, thereafter, make arrangements to inspect the records.
     6.  By e-mail dated August 12, 2013, the complainant appealed to this Commission alleging that the respondents violated §§1-210(a), and 1-212(a), G.S., of the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by:
a. “Denying [him] prompt access;
b. Preventing the ability to present [himself] to the location of the records;
c. Requirement that [he] make an appointment; and
d. Intentional delay in providing access to public records.”
The complainant requested that the maximum civil penalty be imposed against the respondents.
     7.  Section 1-200(5), G.S., provides:
"Public records or files" means any recorded data or information relating to the conduct of the public's business prepared, owned, used, received or retained by a public agency, or to which a public agency is entitled to receive a copy by law or contract under section 1-218, whether such data or information be handwritten, typed, tape-recorded, printed, photostated, photographed or recorded by any other method.
     8.  Section 1-210(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that:
Except 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 (1) inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours….
     9.  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.”
     10. It is found that the requested records are public records within the meaning of §§1-200(5), 1-210(a), and 1-212(a), G.S.
     11. At the hearing on this matter, the complainant clarified that his complaint in this matter is that the respondents discouraged him from coming to headquarters and stated “…[y]our documents will not be ready, and you will not be allowed access to the Fingerprints Unit to view them.”  He contended that the respondents thereby denied him access to inspect public records during the normal business hours of the department.
     12. First, it is found that the respondents were entitled to ensure that there were no exemptions applicable to the requested records whether the request was for inspection or to receive a copy.
     13. Second, it is found that while the respondents acknowledged the complainant’s request over the weekend, it was not unreasonable that the respondents would not have had the opportunity to compile, review and prepare the responsive records for the complainant’s inspection at any time on August 12th, which was the first business day action could have taken on the request.  
     14. Finally, it is found that it was only pragmatic that the respondents offer to inform that complainant when the responsive records were compiled and ready for inspection so that the complainant could, thereafter, inspect the records during the departments’ regular office hours. 
     15. Based upon the facts and circumstances of this case, it is concluded that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act as alleged by the complainant.
     16. The complainant’s request for a civil penalty against the respondents will not be considered.
     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.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of June 11, 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:
Edward Peruta
c/o Rachel Baird, Esq.
8 Church Street
Torrington, CT  06790
Reuben Bradford, Commissioner, State of Connecticut,
Department of Emergency Services and Public
Protection, Division of State; Paul Mounts,
Supervisor, State of Connecticut, Department
of Emergency Services and Public Protection,
Division of State Police; and State of Connecticut,
Department of Emergency Services and Public
Protection, Division of State Police
c/o Terrence M. O’Neill, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
State of Connecticut,
Office of the Attorney General
110 Sherman Street
Hartford, CT  06105
____________________________
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission

FIC/2013-495/FD/cac/6/11/2014