FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision

 

William Stroffolino,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 89-38

 

Norwalk Chief of Police,

 

Respondent September 27, 1989

 

The above-captioned matter was scheduled for hearing as a contested case on May 25, 1989, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared and presented evidence 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 is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18(a), G.S.

 

2. By letter dated January 7, 1989, the complainant requested copies of nine categories of records:

 

(a) the corrected report of an accident in which the complainant was involved on June 12, 1988 at Vets Park, Norwalk, including the names of the persons involved in investigations or questioned or contacted;

 

(b) the record of any action taken against Officer Bauer for making an incorrect report of the June 12, 1988 accident described above;

 

(c) the report by Officer Pittman concerning the complainant's complaint alleging police brutality when the complainant bailed a prisoner out of jail at the Norwalk Police Department;

 

(d) a copy of records concerning the dog the complainant was forced to return to the Norwalk pound which was put to sleep for biting three persons, and records containing the name of the female officer who witnessed the injection;

 

(e) records showing the times and dates officer Steve Kuance questioned the complainant about a sunken boat;

 

(f) a report concerning an incident in 1985 when Officer Fuller


 

Docket #FIC 89-38 page 2

 

made the complainant move his car, which was parked on Highview;

 

(g) a report of legally registered and parked cars which were towed off the city streets for the year 1985;

 

(h) records showing the dates the Norwalk Police applied for a search warrant for property at 22 Barbara Drive, Norwalk; and

 

(i) a copy of the complainant's current arrest record.

 

3. On January 31, 1981, the complainant filed his appeal with this Commission after the respondent failed to provide the requested records.

 

4. At hearing the complainant withdrew his request for item 2(e).

 

5. At hearing the respondent agreed to search for and provide items 2(c), 2(f), and 2(g).

 

6. It is found that items 2(a) and 2(i) have been provided to the complainant but that the complainant wants the content of the records corrected.

 

7. It is concluded that, as to items 2(a) and 2(i), the respondent is not required under the Freedom of Information Act to correct or modify the content of public records in order to satisfy the person who requests copies of public records.

 

8. It is found that item 2(b) does not exist.

 

9. It is found item 2(d) was the subject of a discovery request by the complainant in a federal lawsuit, Docket No. B-85-63 (RCZ).

 

10. Section 1-19b(b) provides in pertinent part:

 

Nothing in sections 1-15, 1-18a, 1-19 to 1-19b, inclusive, and 1-21 to 1-21k, inclusive, shall be deemed in any manner to (1) affect ... the rights of litigants, including the parties to administrative proceedings, under the laws of discovery of this state ....

 

11. It is found that the complainant is a litigant within the meaning of 1-19b(b)(1), G.S.

 

12. It is found that 1-19b(b)(1), G.S. should be interpreted to foster a policy of comity in cases in which records are, or may be, requested under the discovery rules of

 

Docket #FIC 89-38 page 3

 

another tribunal and also requested under the disclosure provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.

 

13. Accordingly, under the circumstances of this case, the Commission in its discretion declines to decide whether item 2(d) is subject to disclosure under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.

 

14. At hearing the complainant limited his request for item 2(h) to a request for any search warrant which authorized a search of his property at 22 Barbara Drive which was issued during the first half of 1983.

 

15. The respondent claimed that the requested warrant was exempt from disclosure as a pending investigation, and furthermore, the respondent did not know whether any such warrant existed.

 

16. It is found that the respondent failed to prove the warrant, if it exists, was exempt pursuant to 1-19(b)(3), G.S. or any other statutory exemption.

 

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 as to items 2(a), 2(b), 2(d), 2(e), and 2(i).

 

2. The respondent shall conduct a search and shall provide to the complainant pursuant to its agreement the records described at items 2(c), 2(f) and 2(g).

 

3. The respondent shall conduct a search for item 2(h) , as limited by agreement of the complainant at paragraph 14, and, if any warrant is found, shall provide the complainant with a copy.

 

Docket #FIC 89-38 page 4

 

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:

WILLIAM STROFFOLINO, 22 Barbara Drive, Norwalk, CT 06851

 

NORWALK CHIEF OF POLICE, c/o M. Jeffry Spahr, Esq., Norwalk Law Department, City Hall, P.O. Box 798, Norwalk, CT 06856

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of September 27, 1989.

 

 

Tina C. Frappier

Acting Clerk of the Commission