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Final Decision FIC2011-104
In the Matter of a Complaint by
FINAL DECISION
Anthony Torres,
     Complainant
     against
Docket #FIC 2011-104
Joan Ellis,
Freedom of Information Administrator,
State of Connecticut,
Department of Correction; and
State of Connecticut,
Department of Correction,
     Respondents
January 11, 2012

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on November 21, 2011, at which time the complainant and 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 # FIC 2011-220; Anthony Torres v. Joan Ellis, Freedom of Information Liaison, State of Connecticut, Department of Correction; and State of Connecticut, Department of Correction.  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. It is found that, on January 20, 2011, the complainant requested records from the respondents for the following:
     [a]  Any and all documents/records created and/or generated by Deputy Warden Faucher at the NCI [Northern Correctional Institution] in written reply to my memos to him which were dated December 1 and 20, 2010.  This FOI request covers any and all such documents/records created and/or generated by [Deputy Warden] Faucher during the period of December 1, 2010 through January 20, 2011 regarding missing/stolen property from my stored property boxes in reply to my memos of December 1 and 20, 2010…
     [b] Any and all documents/records created and/or generated by the DOC Commissary, dated March 1, 1996 through January 20, 2011, which shows and/or describes any and all commissary items purchased by me, and the amount paid by me, for such commissary items, including the date of purchase of such items…[and]…
     [c] Any and all Inmate Property Inventory Form[s] (Male) (CN-61001), any and all Inmate Property Status Form[s] and Receipt[s], Attachment C, including any and all other inmate property form[s] pertaining to my property dated March 1, 1996 through January 20, 2011.  [Emphasis in original omitted]. 
3. It is found that, on January 27, 2011, the respondents acknowledged the complainant’s January 20th request and informed him that they were in the process of reviewing his request, and that someone would be in contact with him in the near future.
4. By letter dated February 14, 2011, and filed on February 25, 2011, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to provide him with copies of the records, described in paragraph 2, above.  The complainant also requested that the Commission impose a civil penalty against the respondent administrator.
5. Section 1-200(5), G.S., defines “public records or files” as:
     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.
7. Section 1-212(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that “any 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 records requested by the complainant, to the extent that they exist, are public records and must be disclosed in accordance with §§1-200(5), 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S.
9. It is found that, on February 24, 2011, the respondents satisfied the request described in paragraph 2[b], above.
10. It is found that on March 3, 2011, the respondents provided the complainant with 28 pages of documents responsive to paragraphs 2[a] and 2[c] of his January 20th request.  These records consisted of property forms generated and kept in the complainant’s property file at NCI.
11. The complainant acknowledged that he received the 28 pages of records described in paragraph 10, above, but maintained that such records were not completely responsive to his requests.  The complainant contended that there should exist records responsive to his request described in paragraph 2[a], above, and that, if there were no responsive records, then the respondents should have notified him in writing that no records exist.  The complainant also contended that, although the respondents provided him with some records responsive to his request described in paragraph 2[c], above, they nevertheless failed to provide him with records covering the period from March 1996 through December 2000.
12. The respondents contended that they provided the complainant with all the records that they located that were responsive to his January 20th request.  With respect to the request described in paragraph 2[a], above, the respondents testified that they performed a complete and thorough search for records, but did not locate any responsive documents.  With respect to the request described in paragraph 2[c], above, the respondents testified that they searched for records at NCI, the facility where the complainant is currently incarcerated, performed a database search and contacted other facilities where the complainant had been incarcerated prior to being transferred to NCI.  The respondents further testified that the only records responsive to his request described in paragraph 2[c], above, were the 28 pages of documents that they had already provided to the complainant.  
13. It is found that the respondents performed a thorough search for records responsive to the complainant’s January 20th request.
14. It is found that the respondents have no records responsive to the complainant’s request described in paragraph 2[a], above.  It is also found that the FOI Act does not require a public agency to inform a requester in writing that there are no responsive records.  See Docket # FIC 2007-574; Bradshaw Smith v. Elizabeth E. Feser, Superintendent of Schools, Windsor Public Schools; Milo W. Peck, Paul J. Panos, as Members, Board of Education, Windsor Public Schools; and Board of Education, Windsor Public Schools.
15. It is further found that the respondents provided the complainant with all records responsive to his January 20th request, which they maintain.

16. It is concluded, therefore, that the respondents did not violate the disclosure provisions of §§1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., in this matter.
17. There is no basis for the imposition of a civil penalty against the respondent Administrator.

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 January 11, 2012.
__________________________
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:
Anthony Torres #246027
Northern Correctional Institution
287 Bilton Road
Somers, CT  06071
Joan Ellis, Freedom of Information Administrator, State of Connecticut,
Department of Correction; and State of Connecticut, Department of Correction
c/o James Neil, Esq.
Department of Correction
24 Wolcott Hill Road
Wethersfield, CT  06109

____________________________
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC/2011-104/FD/cac/1/11/2012