Final Decision FIC2014-848
In the Matter of a Complaint by
||Docket #FIC 2014-848|
Chief, Police Department, City of
Torrington; Police Department,
City of Torrington; and City of
September 9, 2015
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on July 16, 2015, at which time the complainant and respondents appeared 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 November 17, 2014, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents had violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by denying his request for copies of certain records, and for a fee waiver.
3. It is found that the complainant made a November 1, 2014 request to the respondent Chief for the following records for his criminal case number 13-25841:
a. any and all police reports as well as supplemental reports;
b. [a]ny and all arrest warrant applications;
c. [a]ny and all copies of confessions and statements of witnesses and victims;
d. [a]ny and all DNA samples that were collected, tested and received; and
e. [a]ny and all other information and evidence collected for case 13-25841 as well as any and all video footage photos.
4. In his November 1, 2014 request, the complainant acknowledged that his mother had previously requested the same records, but that she had been only provided with a couple of supplemental reports and an evidence property list.
5. Also, in his November 1, 2014 request, the complainant enclosed a copy of his account balance to show that he was indigent, and requested that the respondents waive any copying fees.
6. It is found that the respondents’ records division responded anonymously by letter dated November 3, 2014, that it had received a request from the complainant’s mother for information regarding his case, and that the “releasable” records had been provided to her.
7. It is found, however, that the complainant himself did not have possession of the records that were provided to his mother, and in any event believed that the records provided to her were incomplete; hence, his November 1, 2014 request.
8. It is found that the respondents did not provide any records to the complainant at his correctional institution in response to his November 1, 2014 request.
9. Section 1-200(5), G.S., defines “public records” as follows:
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, …whether such data or information be handwritten, typed, tape-recorded, printed, photostated, photographed or recorded by any other method.
10. Section 1-210(a), G.S., provides, in relevant part:
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 … receive a copy of such records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-212.
11. 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.”
12. It is concluded that, to the extent the requested records exist, they are public records within the meaning of §§1-200(5), 1-210(a), and 1-212(a), G.S.
13. At the hearing, the respondents made no claim that they did not maintain the requested records, or that the requested records were exempt from disclosure.
14. Section 1-212(d)(1), G.S., provides: “The public agency shall waive any fee provided for in this section when … [t]he person requesting the records is an indigent individual….”
15. The respondents did not contest the complainant’s status as an indigent person.
16. It is therefore concluded that the respondents violated the FOI Act by failing to provide the requested records to the complainant at his correctional institution, free of charge.
17. At the hearing, the respondents, as a gesture of good faith, pledged to provide copies of the requested records to the complainant at his correctional institution the day following the hearing in this matter.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint.
1. If they have not already done so, the respondents shall forthwith provide a copy of the requested records to the complainant, free of charge.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of September 9, 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:
Thomas Tanner # 165924
MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution
1153 East Street South
Suffield, CT 06080
Chief, Police Department, City of Torrington; Police Department,
City of Torrington; and City of Torrington
c/o R.J. Rigat, Esq.
140 Main Street
Torrington, CT 06790
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission