FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Wilson Campos and Ismael Vasquez,

 

Complainants

 

against Docket #FIC 90-485

 

State of Connecticut, Department of Correction,

 

Respondent October 23, 1991

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 8, 1991, at which time the complainants 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. Pursuant to 1-15 et seq., G.S., by letter dated December 4, 1990, the complainants requested from the respondent, copies of four categories of records pertaining to the Carl Robinson Correctional Institution (hereinafter "CRCI").

 

3. Specifically, the complainants requested copies of the following:

 

(a) the current inmate handbook;

 

(b) the current personnel handbook, or other standing orders or documents regulating the conduct of correctional officers at CRCI;

 

(c) all documents concerning disciplinary reports and proceedings that relate to, or refer to the September 6, 1990 disturbance in Dormitory Building #5 (hereinafter "disturbance") at CRCI; and

 

(d) all videotapes taken by CRCI CERT team members or other correctional personnel during the disturbance.

 

Docket #FIC 90-485 Page 2

 

4. By letter dated December 5, 1990, the respondent informed the complainants that because criminal litigation involving them was pending at the time of the request, the criminal discovery process rather than 1-15, G.S. was "the appropriate method by which to gain access to [the requested] materials."

5. On December 13, 1990, the complainants filed their appeal with this Commission alleging that they had been denied copies of records in violation of Connecticut's Freedom of Information Act (hereinafter "FOIA").

 

6. At the hearing on this matter, the parties agreed that the complainants would withdraw their complaint as to items (a) and (d) of their request.

 

7. At issue in the proceeding before the Commission were items (b) and (c) of the request, as set forth in paragraph 3 of the findings, above.

 

8. The Commission takes adminstrative notice of the fact that the criminal matter involving the complainants was concluded prior to the hearing, because the charges against the complainants were disposed of on March 19, 1991.

 

9. It is concluded, however, that this case is not moot because the issue of whether all of the records should have been disclosed pursuant to FOIA remains at issue.

 

11. The respondent argues that 1-19b(b), G.S., restricts a litigant's access to information under the FOIA where discovery procedures are available.

 

12. It is found that, under the facts of this case, the respondent failed to prove that the document request was inappropriate under FOIA, notwithstanding the pendency of criminal litigation involving the complainants.

 

13. It is concluded that 1-19b(b), G.S., does not restrict any right of access that members of the public, including litigants, have under FOIA.

 

14. It is concluded that 1-19b(b), G.S., is not a limitation on the rights of members of the public, including litigants, to obtain copies of, or access to "public records" as defined in 1-18a(d), G.S.

 

Docket #FIC 90-485 Page 3

 

15. The respondent also argues that to disclose the records described in paragraph 3(c) of the findings, above, could compromise the respondent's security procedures.

 

16. It is found that, under the facts of this case, the respondent failed to allege or prove the applicability of any exemption under FOIA.

 

17. It is found that the respondent failed to prove that the types of records described in paragraphs 3(b) and 3(c) of the findings, above, are exempt from disclosure by any federal law or state statute, within the meaning of 1-19(a), G.S.

 

18. It is concluded that the respondent withheld records that it failed to prove were wholly or partially exempt from disclosure under FOIA.

 

19. It is found that the records described more fully in paragraphs 3(b) and 3(c) of the findings, above, relate to the conduct of the public's business as carried out by the respondent, and are prepared, owned, used, received or retained by the respondent public agency, within the meaning of 1-18a(d), G.S.

 

20. It is therefore concluded that the records described in paragraphs 3(b) and 3(c), above, are public records as defined by 1-18a(d), G.S., and subject to disclosure pursuant to 1-15 and 1-19, 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 henceforth comply with the disclosure provisions of 1-15 and 1-19, G.S.

 

2. The respondent shall forthwith provide the complainants with copies of the records more fully described in paragraphs 3(b) and 3(c) of the findings, above, if it has not already provided them.

 

Docket #FIC 90-485 Page 4

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of October 23, 1991.

 

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission

 

Docket #FIC 90-485 Page 5

 

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:

Wilson Campos and Ismael Vasquez

c/o Adam J. Teller, Esq.

Office of the Public Defender, Superior Court G.A. 13

111 Phoenix Avenue

Enfield, CT 06082

 

State of Connecticut, Department of Corrections

c/o Martin Rosenfeld, Assistant Attorney General

MacKenzie Hall

110 Sherman Avenue

Hartford, CT 06105

 

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission