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Final Decision FIC2014-291
In the Matter of a Complaint by
FINAL DECISION
Joseph Sastre,
     Complainant
     against
Docket #FIC 2014-291
Chief Audit and Compliance Officer,
State of Connecticut, University of
Connecticut, Office of Audit, Compliance
and Ethics; and State of Connecticut,
University of Connecticut, Office of
Audit, Compliance and Ethics,
     Respondents
March 25, 2015

     The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on December 9, 2014, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts 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.  By letter of complaint filed May 12, 2014, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by denying his October 2, 2013 request for copies of records on April 29, 2014. The complainant requested the imposition of a civil penalty.
     3.  It is found that the complainant made an October 2, 2013 request to the respondents for a copy of an audio recording of an appeal meeting he attended at the University of Connecticut (“UConn”) Police Department that day; and also a copy of the minutes and records of attendance of the “Employees of Concern” meeting held at UConn on July 19, 2013.
     4.  It is found that the respondents acknowledged the request on October 7, 2013.
     5.  It is found that the respondents notified the complainant on October 29, 2013 that the requested audio recording had been erased following the October 2, 2013 hearing.
     6.  It is found that the respondents further notified the complainant on April 29, 2014 that there were records responsive to his request, and provided a copy of an email advising the complainant’s client that the “no trespass” letter issued to the client had been lifted, and a copy of a memorandum summarizing the October 2, 2013 hearing.
     7.  It is found that the April 29, 2014 communication was a denial of the complainant’s request for a copy of the audio recording and the “Employees of Concern” minutes.
     8.  It is found that the October 2, 2013 hearing was an appeal of a “no trespass letter” issued to a client of the complainant, prohibiting the client from entering the UConn campus, and that the hearing was conducted by an officer of the UConn Police Department.
     9.  It is found that, at the time of the October 2, 2013 hearing, the issuance of “no trespass letters” was a new policy, and that the October 2, 2013 hearing was the first appeal from the issuance of a “no trespass letter.”
     10. It is found that the UConn police officer conducting the hearing purchased a digital audio recorder for the purpose of recording the hearing.
     11. It is found that, following the complainant’s hearing and the next hearing that followed, the police officer decided that it was not necessary to record hearings of appeals from “no trespass letters,” disposed of the recorder by giving it to another police department unit, and deleted the two recordings before he learned that he had a duty to retain such recordings.
     12. It is found that the recording was deleted before the request for the recording reached the police officer who conducted the hearing.
     13. It is found that, concerning the complainant’s request for records of the “Employees of Concern” meeting, that neither the respondents nor the UConn Human Resources Department (within which the “Employees of Concern” team operates) maintain such records.
     14. It is further found that the “Employees of Concern” team did not keep minutes of its meetings.
     15. 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.
     16. 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, (2) copy such records in accordance with subsection (g) of section 1-212, or (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212.  (Emphasis supplied).
     17. Section 1-212(a), G.S., provides in relevant part: “Any person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain, facsimile, electronic or certified copy of any public record.”
     18. It is found that the neither of the requested records exists.
     19. It is therefore concluded that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act as alleged.
     20. The Commission in its discretion declines to express an opinion as to whether the “Employees of Concern” meeting was a public meeting within the meaning of the FOI Act, or whether it was required to keep minutes of its meetings, as the entity that conducted that meeting is not a party to this 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 March 25, 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:
Joseph Sastre
67 Chestnut Street
Bristol, CT  06010
Chief Audit and Compliance Officer, State of Connecticut,
University of Connecticut, Office of Audit, Compliance
and Ethics; and State of Connecticut, University of
Connecticut, Office of Audit, Compliance and Ethics
c/o Holly J. Bray, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
343 Mansfield Road
Unit 1177
Storrs-Mansfield, CT  06269-1117
____________________________
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission

FIC/2014-291/FD/cac/3/25/2015