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Final Decision FIC2012-033
In the Matter of a Complaint by
FINAL DECISION
Estate of Joseph Mazzotta,
     Complainant
     against
Docket #FIC 2012-033
Chief, Police Department, City
of Middletown; and Police
Department, City of Middletown,
     Respondents
November 14, 2012

     The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 22, 2012, 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.  It is found that, by letter dated December 16, 2011, the complainant requested that the respondents provide it with copies of: 
     a.  a search warrant and underlying affidavit for a search of the home of Joseph Mazzotta, 155 Highmeadow Lane, Middletown, conducted in April 2003;
     b.  an inventory of property seized at such search; and
     c.  any incident or investigatory report related to the matter. 
     The search referenced herein was prompted by the homicide of Joseph Mazzotta in Middletown in April 2003.
     3.  By letter dated January 17, 2012, and filed on January 20, 2012, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to provide it with copies of the records described in paragraph 2, above. 
     4.  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. 
     5.  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.
     6.  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.”
     7.  It is found that the requested records, to the extent that they exist, are public records within the meaning of §§1-200(5), 1-210(a), and 1-212(a), G.S.
     8.  At the hearing in this matter, the parties stipulated, and it is found, that the respondents do not maintain a warrant or inventory of property seized with respect to the property of Joseph Mazzotta at 155 Highmeadow Lane in Middletown.  
     9.  It is found, however, that the respondents do maintain an April 2003 waiver of warrant and property receipt for another individual also located at 155 Highmeadow Lane in Middletown.  The parties stipulated, and it is found, that the respondents provided copies of such records to the complainant.
     10.  It is concluded that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act with respect to the request described in paragraph 2.a and 2.b, above.
     11.  With respect to the request described in paragraph 2.c, above, it is found that the respondents maintain an investigatory report related to the homicide of Joseph Mazzotta.  It is found that such report, which the respondents submitted to the Commission for in camera inspection, is responsive to the request described in paragraph 2.c, above.  The in camera document is hereinafter referenced as IC-2012-033-001 through IC-2012-033-012. 
     12.  The Commission notes that the in camera index submitted by the respondents indicates that IC-2012-033-11 and IC-2012-033-12 have already been released to the complainant.  Additionally, the index to in camera records indicates that IC-2012-033-9 and IC-2012-033-10 can be released to the complainant. 
     13.  With respect to the remainder of the requested records at issue, IC-2012-033-1 through IC-2012-033-8, the respondents contend that the investigation report is permissibly exempt from disclosure under §1-210(b)(3)(C), G.S.  
     14.  Section 1-210(b)(3)(C), G.S., exempts from mandatory disclosure:
     (3)  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 … (C) information to be used in a prospective law enforcement action if prejudicial to such action….
     15.  At the hearing in this matter, the respondents contended that although the investigation into the nine-year old homicide is dormant, the case is considered a cold case which could, at some future date, lead to an arrest in the matter.  However, §1-210(b)(3)(C), G.S., requires an evidentiary showing that the records at issue are to be used in a prospective law enforcement action, and that the disclosure of the records would be prejudicial to such action.  Dept. of Public Safety v. Freedom of Information Commission, 51 Conn. App. 100, 104-105 (1998).
     16.  After careful review of the record in this matter, including the in camera records, it is concluded that the respondents failed to prove that the records requested in paragraph 2.c, above, are exempt from disclosure under §1-210(b)(3)(C), G.S.  
     17.  It is concluded that the respondents violated the FOI Act by failing to provide the complainant with a copy of the in camera records in their entirety.
     The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
     1.  Forthwith, the respondents shall provide to the complainant a copy of in camera records IC-2012-033-1 through IC-2012-033-10. 
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of November 14, 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:
Estate of Joseph Mazzotta
c/o A. Paul Spinella
Spinella & Associates
One Lewis Street
Hartford, CT  06103
Chief, Police Department, City
of Middletown; and Police
Department, City of Middletown
c/o Timothy P. Lynch, Esq.
Acting City Attorney
City Attorney’s Office
245 DeKoven Drive
Middletown, CT  06457
____________________________
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission

FIC/2012-033/FD/cac/11/14/2012