FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
Walter P. Doolittle,
against Docket #FIC 89-1
Lester J. Forst, Commissioner of the State of Connecticut Department of Public Safety,
Respondent May 24, 1989
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on February 14, 1989, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. This case was consolidated with Docket ##'s FIC 89-2, 89-4 and 89-5 for hearing.
After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:
1. The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of §1-18a(a), G.S.
2. By letter dated December 5, 1989, the complainant requested the respondent provide him with the following documents, all concerning the complainant's complaint to the respondent about John Groppo, the former Commissioner of the Department of Revenue Services:
a. copies of all records about the complaint, the investigation and the actions taken;
b. the account number under which these records were stored;
c. and a certified copy of the investigation report or, if no investigation report existed, a certified statement saying so.
3. By letter dated January 2, 1989, and filed with the Commission on January 4, 1989, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging the denial of his request and asking that a civil penalty be imposed upon the respondent.
4. The respondent claims that his department already has
Docket #FIC 89-1 Page Two
provided the complainant with all the requested records and that no such account number exists. The respondent also requests that a civil penalty be imposed upon the complainant for bringing a frivolous complaint.
5. It is found that the sergeant in charge of the respondent's Reports and Records Department searched for John Groppo's name in the computer files into which the respondent's department logs the complaints and investigation reports of its cases. The sergeant found no documents that could be accessed via John Groppo's name, other than that described in paragraphs 10 and 11, below.
6. It is found that the only other means the respondent's department has to find documents that might contain John Groppo's name, but are not filed under it in the computer, would be a manual inspection of some 60,000 documents.
7. It is concluded that such an inspection would require the respondent to do research not required by the Freedom of Information Act.
8. It is further found that no account number meeting the description in paragraph 2b, above exists, but that the respondent's department numbers each case.
9. It is found that the respondent's department would have to first find records filed under John Groppo's name to determine under what case number the relevant records were filed.
10. At the hearing the complainant specified that he seeks a form SP-683 containing John Groppo's name, as well as the names of three individuals who are the subjects of the records requested in Docket ##'s FIC 89-2, 89-4 and 89-5.
11. It is found that the respondent's department has sent the complainant the SP-683 form in question twice and that the complainant has the relevant case number.
12. It is found that as of the time of the hearing on this matter the respondent's department had not sent the complainant a written response to his request.
13. It is concluded, therefore, that the respondent violated §1-21i, G.S., by not responding in writing to the complainant's request within four business days of receiving it.
Docket #FIC 89-1 Page Three
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. The respondent forthwith shall instruct his Reports and Records Department to respond in writing to all written requests for public records within four business days of receiving each request, in strict compliance with §1-21i, G.S.
2. The Commission declines to impose a civil penalty upon the respondent.
3. The Commission declines to impose a civil penalty upon the complainant.
Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of May 24, 1989.
Karen J. Haggett
Clerk of the Commission