FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

James F. Sullivan

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 88-389

 

Commissioner, State of Connecticut Department of Public Safety

 

Respondent January 11, 1989

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on November 8, 1988, at which time the complainant and the respondent 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 respondent commissioner is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.

 

2. By letter dated August 30, 1988 the complainant requested from the respondent commissioner a copy of a "pink slip" No. M-F-77569, a summons written by State Trooper Manuel Acosta on June 5, 1988.

 

3. By letter of complaint dated September 20, 1988 and filed with the Commission on September 22, 1988, the complainant claimed that the respondent commissioner denied him access to public records and did not respond to his request within four business days.

 

4. The respondent commissioner did not respond to the complainant's request until October 5, 1988, when by letter he informed the complainant that the record sought was a prosecutor's copy of the summons and was part of the court records in Rockville Superior Court and directed the complainant to that court.

 

5. In his complaint, the complainant also named as a respondent assistant state's attorney Rosen, but at the hearing the parties stipulated that the sole respondent would be the Commissioner of Public Safety.

 

Docket #FIC 88-389 Page Two

 

6. The respondent claims:

 

a. The requested record is no longer in his physical custody.

 

b. The requested record constitutes an erased record, the disclosure of which requires a court order pursuant to 54-142a(a), (e) and (f), G.S.

 

c. 1-19b(b)(1), G.S., prohibits the Freedom of Information Commission from affecting the status of judicial records as they existed prior to October, 1975, or affecting the rights of parties to administrative proceedings under Connecticut discovery laws.

 

7. It is found that the respondent took over 35 days to respond to the complainant's letter, well beyond the four business day limitation set forth in 1-21i(a), G.S.

 

8. It is concluded, therefore, that the respondent violated 1-21i(a), G.S., by failing to reply within four (4) business days to the complainant's request.

 

9. It is found that at the time of the complainant's request, the "pink slip" at issue was no longer in the respondent's custody.

 

10. It is found that the respondent did not deny the complainant access to any public record within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.

 

11. It is therefore concluded that the respondent did not violate 1-19(a) or 1-15, G.S., in this case.

 

12. Based on the conclusion in paragraph 11, above, that there was no violation of the complainant's right to public records, the other claims raised by the respondent as grounds for dismissal do not need to be addressed.

 

13. The complainant asked that the Commission impose a civil penalty against the respondent.

 

14. Under the facts presented in this case, the Commission declines to impose a civil penalty against the respondent.

 

Docket #FIC 88-389 Page Three

 

The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:

 

1. Henceforth, the respondent shall comply strictly with the time period specified by 1-21i(a), G.S.

 

2. The remainder of the complaint is hereby dismissed.

 

3. The Commission notes that the summons in question is made out in triplicate, and that in addition to the complainant's white copy and the prosecutor's pink copy, the respondent retains a "green" version of such summons. By not retaining a facsimile of the "pink copy" of the summons form, which differs from the retained "green copy", the respondent may have violated the records retention provisions of other state statutes. The Commission therefore strongly urges the respondent to consult the Public Records Administrator for guidance on records retention schedules in this regard.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of January 11, 1989.

 

 

Catherine H. Lynch

Acting Clerk of the Commission