FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Robert S. Weiss,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 91-111

 

East Hampton Town Manager,

 

Respondent October 9, 1991

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on August 5, 1991, 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 is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.

 

2. By letter dated March 26, 1991, the complainant requested of the respondent a listing of all legal bills from January 1, 1980 forward received by the town regarding Robert S. Weiss or his properties, including:

 

a. name of the attorney,

b. date of service,

c. reason for legal service,

d. billable hours, and

e. fees charged.

 

3. It is found that when the complainant initially made his request, the respondent and the comptroller stated that records dating back more than three years are kept in a warehouse, and that it would take approximately ten days to two weeks to retrieve those records.

 

4. By letter dated April 3, 1991, the law office of Ryan and Ryan, P. C. advised the respondent to deny the request, questioning whether those bills relate to the conduct of the public's business and speculating that the attorney-client privilege exemption under 1-19(b)(10), G.S., may apply to the requested information.

 

5. By letter dated April 5, 1991, the respondent denied the complainant's March 26 request.

 

Docket #FIC 91-111 Page 2

 

6. By letter filed with this Commission on May 2, 1991, the complainant appealed the denial of his request.

 

7. At the hearing, the complainant stated that he did not seek the contents of attorney/client communications but merely sought the general reason for legal representation pursuant to his request identified in paragraph 2c, above.

 

8. At the hearing, the respondent's counsel offered to resolve the matter by supplying the complainant with those records on file at the town hall, which billing dates begin in 1988. At that time he also stated that a request for records dating back 10 years is burdensome.

 

9. At the hearing, the respondent's counsel also questioned whether the requested records constitute public records and speculated that they "may not relate to the conduct of the public's business."

 

10. Section 1-18a(d), G.S., provides:

 

'Public records or files' means any recorded data

or information relating to the conduct of the

public's business prepared, owned, received or

retained by a public agency, whether such data

or information be handwritten, typed, tape-recorded,

printed, photostated, photographed or recorded by

any other method.

 

11. It is concluded that the records of legal services utilized by the town constitute public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d), G.S.

 

12. It is found that no evidence was presented at the hearing to indicate that any portion of the requested records are exempt from disclosure as communications privileged by the attorney-client relationship pursuant to 1-19(b)(10), G.S.

 

13. It is accordingly concluded that the respondent's failure to promptly provide the complainant with the requested records constitutes a violation of 1-19(a), G.S.

 

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

 

1. The respondent shall forthwith make a diligent search of its records and provide the complainant with those records requested at paragraphs 2a-e of the findings, above.

 

Docket #FIC 91-111 Page 3

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of October 9, 1991.

 

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission

 

Docket #FIC 91-111 Page 4

 

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:

Robert S. Weiss

8 Fairfield Boulevard

Wallingford, CT 06492

 

East Hampton Town Manager

c/o Sean E. Sweeney, Esq.

Ryan & Ryan, P.C.

46 Washington Street

Middletwon, CT 06457

 

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission