FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Paul F. Miller,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 88-393

 

Office of the First Selectman and Office of the Second Selectman of the Town of Easton,

 

Respondents September 13, 1989

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on November 14, 1988, at which time the complainant and the respondent first selectman 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 1-18a(a), G.S.

 

2. By letters dated September 12, 1988 and September 17, 1988, the complainant requested of the respondent first selectman copies of itemized bills for legal services provided to the town of Easton by the firm of Durant, Sabanosh, Nichols & Houston (the "law firm") for the months of July and August, 1988, regarding the lawsuit by the town of Easton and the Easton Police Department against Clarence E. Jennings, Jr., Clarence E. Jennings III, Stephen J. Link and Trent T. Link (the "lawsuit").

 

3. On September 19, 1988 the respondent first selectman replied to the complainant that the requested bills were not yet available.

 

4. By letter of complaint dated September 23, 1988 and received by the Commission on September 26, 1988, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents had denied his requests.

 

5. By letters dated September 23, 1988, the complainant addressed his request to the treasurer and comptroller of the town of Easton.

 

6. By letters dated September 28, 1988, the treasurer and comptroller replied to the complainant that the town had instructed the law firm to bill the town on a quarterly basis, and that the bill for the months of July and August, 1988 had not yet been submitted to the town.

 

7. It is found that the complainant failed to prove that he had addressed his request to the respondent second selectman.

 

8. It is found that the respondent first selectman requested quarterly billings by the law firm in July or August of 1988.

 

9. It is found that some information regarding the law firm's estimate for litigation fees regarding the lawsuit was provided to the first selectman on or before the September 20, 1988 regular meeting of the Easton Board of Finance.

 

10. It is also found, however, that the respondent first selectman had not received an actual bill from the law firm for the quarter ending September 30, 1988 as of the date of the hearing on this matter.

 

11. It is also found that the town comptroller had neither received nor paid the requested bills as of the date of the hearing on this matter.

 

12. It is found that the requested itemized bills, when received by the town, are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d), G.S.

 

13. It is also found that the complainant seeks only the amounts of the July and August 1988 bills, and not any information exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(4) or 1-19(b)(10), G.S.

 

14. The respondent first selectman maintains that the subject bills have not yet been received by the town because of delays caused by the first selectman's requests for quarterly billing and for more specific identification by the law firm of the particular matters to which the law firm's work pertained.

 

15. The complainant maintains that previous bills submitted to the town by the law firm for the months of May and June, 1988, are sufficiently detailed to identify the particular matters to which the law firm's work pertained.

 

16. It is found that, based on the edited versions of the May and June, 1988 bills made exhibits in this matter, it is not possible to determine whether the unedited May and June, 1988 bills are sufficiently detailed to identify the particular matters to which the law firm's work pertained.

 

17. The Commission takes administrative notice that, barring any additional and extraordinary difficulties in providing the itemization and quarterly billing referenced in paragraph 14, above, the requested bills should have been received by the town by the date of the final decision in this matter.

 

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

 

1. The respondent first selectman shall forthwith provide the complainant with a copy of the requested record or, within two weeks of the issuance of the Final Decision in this matter, provide the complainant and the Commission with an affidavit stating that he has conducted a thorough search of his records, and that the record requested by the complainant has not been received by the town of Easton.

 

2. The complaint is dismissed as to the respondent second selectman.

 

PURSUANT TO 4-180(c) C.G.S. THE FOLLOWING ARE THE NAMES OF EACH PARTY AND THE MOST RECENT MAILING ADDRESS, PROVIDED TO THE F.O.I.C., OF THE PARTIES OR THEIR AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE.

 

THE PARTIES TO THIS CONTESTED CASE ARE:

PAUL F. MILLER

c/o Andrew Bowman, Esquire

1804 Post Road East

Westport, CT 06880

 

OFFICE OF THE FIRST SELECTMAN AND OFFICE OF THE SECOND SELECTMAN OF THE TOWN OF EASTON

c/o Theodore H. Meyer

Easton First Selectman

Town Hall

225 Center Road

Easton, CT 06612

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of September 13, 1989.

 

 

Tina C. Frappier

Acting Clerk of the Commission