Final Decision FIC2014-653
In the Matter of a Complaint by
||Docket #FIC 2014-653|
Chief, Police Department,
City of New Britain;
City of New Britain; and
City of New Britain,
July 22, 2015
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 11, 2015, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts, and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. The complainant, who is incarcerated, appeared via teleconference, pursuant to the January 2004 memorandum of understanding between the Commission and the Department of Correction. See Docket No. CV 03-0826293, Anthony Sinchak v. FOIC et al, Superior Court, J.D. of Hartford at Hartford, Corrected Order dated January 27, 2004 (Sheldon, J.).
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 October 6, 2014, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to comply with his September 24, 2014 request for all records related to his criminal conviction.
3. It is found that the respondents provided unredacted copies of all of the requested records to the Department of Correction, on October 14, 2014, except for (a) signed witness statements, and (b) crime scene photographs, which they withheld out of concerns for the victim’s privacy and because of the graphic nature of some of the photographs.
4. It is found that the Department of Correction redacted some information from the records, such as the names and addresses of the victim and witnesses, before providing the records to the complainant. It is found that the Department of Correction had not completed its security review of the requested records at the time of the hearing, but will notify the complainant when that review is complete, including a description of any records withheld.
5. 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.
6. 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 . . . (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212. (Emphasis added).
7. 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.”
8. It is found that the requested records are public records, within the meaning of §§1-200(5) and 1-210(a), G.S.
9. Section 1-210(b)(3)(C), G.S., provides that disclosure is not required of:
Records of law enforcement agencies not otherwise available to the public which records were compiled in connection with the detection or investigation of crime, if the disclosure of said records would not be in the public interest because it would result in the disclosure of … signed statements of witnesses
10. It is therefore concluded that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act by withholding signed statements of witnesses.
11. At the hearing, the complainant withdrew his request for photographs of the victim, and the respondents agreed to provide copies of the crime scene photographs that did not include images of the victim.
12. The complainant was advised by the hearing officer that if the complainant is dissatisfied with the records provided to him by the Department of Correction, he should file a complaint against the Department when it has notified him of the documents withheld from him.
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 July 22, 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:
Michael Labarge #92280
Garner Correctional Institution
50 Nunnawauk Road
Newtown, CT 06470
Chief, Police Department, City of New Britain;
Police Department, City of New Britain; and
City of New Britain
c/o Joseph Skelly, Jr., Esq.
Office of Corporation Counsel
27 West Main Street
New Britain, CT 06109
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission