Final Decision FIC2014-127
In the Matter of a Complaint by
||Docket #FIC 2014-127|
Director, Department of Parks,
Recreation and Trees, City of New
Haven; Department of Parks, Recreation
And Trees, City of New Haven; and
City of New Haven,
January 14, 2015
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on October 23, 2014, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.
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. It is found that, by email dated January 31, 2014, the complainant requested from the respondents copies of all emails sent and received between the parks department director and the deputy director during November and December of 2013,1 and all emails “between parks and human resources within that time frame.”
1The complainant later informed the respondents that the reference to 2013 should have been 2012.
3. It is found that, by email dated January 31, 2014, the respondents acknowledged the request, described in paragraph 2, above, and requested that the complainant specify the names of those individuals in human resources whose emails he was seeking.
4. It is found that, by email dated February 1, 2014, the complainant provided to the respondents the names of three individuals in human resources whose emails he was seeking, and also expanded his request to include all emails sent and received by the director and deputy director during November and December 2012.
5. It is found that, by email dated February 27, 2014, the complainant inquired of the respondents as to the status of his request, described in paragraphs 2 and 4, above.
6. By email dated and filed March 4, 2014, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to comply with the request for records, described in paragraphs 2 and 4, above.
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 or . . . (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212.
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 records responsive to the requests, described in paragraphs 2 and 4, above, are public records within the meaning of §§1-200(5) and 1-210(a), G.S.
11. It is found that, in response to the requests, described in paragraphs 2 and 4, above, a paralegal in the office of Corporation Counsel for the respondent City of New Haven (“city”) forwarded such requests to the city’s network administrator (“administrator”), and that the administrator conducted a search for responsive records on the city’s servers. It is found that on the city’s computer network, each user is assigned a “mailbox” in which all emails, that have not been deleted, are stored. It is further found that the process by which a search for emails is conducted on the city’s system requires that each user’s mailbox be searched with certain filters, as appropriate. It is found that, in this case, the mailboxes of the names of the five individuals were searched using the “to” and “from” filter, and the date filter. It is found that the results of the search conducted by the administrator in this case consisted of every email sent or received by each of the five named individuals, in November and December of 2012, including all emails on which any of the five individuals were “cc’d,”, totaling approximately 7,000 emails. It is further found, that such results did not include any emails that may have been deleted.
12. It is found that the administrator sent the results of the search to the paralegal, in PDF form, in two separate batches. It is found that in June and July, 2014, the respondents provided the complainant with the opportunity to review the 7,000 emails (with the exception of some attachments to certain emails that the respondents claimed were attorney-client privileged ), so that he could decide which emails he wanted copied. It is found that the complainant indicated that he wanted copies of approximately 45 pages of emails.
13. It is found that, a few days later, the complainant contacted the respondents again and informed them that he believed certain emails existed but were not provided to him. It is found that he showed the paralegal copies of certain emails that he had obtained through other sources that had not been provided to him that were within the scope of his request. It is found that the paralegal then contacted the administrator with this information and requested that the administrator conduct an additional search for responsive emails. It is found that the administrator conducted such search, and that no additional emails were located. The administrator testified, and it is found, that if responsive emails were not located through the search, it is most likely because such emails were deleted at some point during the past couple of years. It is further found that, because the city’s email system is outdated, deleted emails cannot be recovered.
14. At the hearing in this matter, the sole issue raised by the complainant was whether or not the respondents had provided him with all responsive records. Based upon all of the foregoing findings of fact, it is found that the respondents provided the complainant with all records they maintain that are responsive to his request, described in paragraphs 2 and 4, above.
15. Accordingly, it is concluded that the respondents did not violate the FOI 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 dismissed.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of January 14, 2015.
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:
48 Francis Street
Seymour, CT 06483
Director, Department of Parks, Recreation and Trees, City of New
Haven; Department of Parks, Recreation and Trees, City of New
Haven; and City of New Haven
c/o Kathleen Foster, Esq.
Office of the Corporation Counsel
165 Church Street
New Haven, CT 06570
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission