FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision

 

Martin Fey and The Observer Patriot,

 

Complainants

 

against Docket #FIC 90-508

 

Commissioner, State of Connecticut, Department of Banking and State of Connecticut, Department of Banking,

 

Respondents November 13, 1991

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 15, 1991, at which time the complainants and the respondents 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 letter of request to the respondents dated October 24, 1990, the complainants requested access to "all documents [from 1986 through October 19, 1990] pertaining to the operation and liquidation of the Brooklyn Savings bank" (hereinafter "savings bank").

 

3. In their request the complainants specified that the documents to which access was sought included, but was not limited to: financial information, assessments, reports or letters concerning the savings bank that had been filed with the respondents between 1986 and October 19, 1990, the date the bank was ordered closed.

 

4. By letter of response dated December 20, 1990, the respondents informed the complainants that some of the documents would be disclosed; however, the request would be denied with respect to all remaining documents pursuant to 1-19(a) and 36-16(a), G.S.

 

Docket #FIC 90-508 Page 2

 

5. By letter of complaint dated December 31, 1990, and filed with this Commission on December 31, 1990, the complainants alleged that the the respondents unlawfully refused to disclose all documents in their possession pertaining to the operation and liquidation of the savings bank.

 

6. At the hearing on this matter the complainants requested that the respondents allow the Commission to conduct an in camera inspection of the documents at issue.

 

7. The respondents declined to make such an offer of proof.

 

8. It is found that the requested documents are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d), G.S.

 

9. It is found that the documents that the complainants are seeking are maintained as part of the respondents' Brooklyn Savings Bank file (hereinafter "file").

 

10. Access to public records is governed by 1-19, G.S. Section 1-19(a), G.S., in relevant part, states:

 

"Except as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute, all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency,... shall be public records...."

 

11. Section 36-16, G.S., in pertinent part, states:

 

"(a) All information obtained by the [bank] commissioner or by any member of the department of banking shall be confidential except such as should, in the opinion of the commissioner, be imparted in the performance of official duties. (b) Examination, operating or condition reports prepared by the [bank] commissioner or prepared on behalf of or for the use of the commissioner shall be confidential unless otherwise a matter of public record ...." (Emphasis Added).

 

12. It is found that 36-16, G.S., governs this case.

 

13. At the hearing on this matter the testimony of the respondents was that they relied upon the memory of the director of the state's Bank Examination Commission for his assessment of what if anything in the file might be subject to disclosure.

 

14. It is found that the respondents failed to inventory the file prior to making the determination that total disclosure of the requested records was not warranted.

 

Docket #FIC 90-508 Page 3

 

15. It is concluded that under the facts of this case, 36-16, G.S., may not be a complete defense to disclosure of each of the documents at issue.

 

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

 

1. The respondents shall forthwith conduct an inventory of the documents that remain at issue and provide the complainants with either certified copies of additional documents that may be disclosed in accordance with 36-16, G.S., or a sworn affidavit that a thorough inventory of the documents has been made and no additional disclosure is warranted.

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of November 13, 1991.

 

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission

 

Docket #FIC 90-508 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:

Martin Fey

The Observer Patriot

136 Main Street

Putnam, CT 06260

 

Commissioner, State of Connecticut Department of Banking and State of Connecticut Department of Banking

c/o Jacqueline Kydd Houser, Assistant Attorney General

MacKenzie Hall

110 Sherman Street

Hartford, CT 06105

 

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission