FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
against Docket #FIC 91-69
Ralph E. Urban, Assistant Attorney General, State of Connecticut and State of Connecticut, Office of the Attorney General,
Respondents February 19, 1992
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 10, 1991, at which time the complainant 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 dated January 19, 1991, the complainant requested from the respondents copies of all information concerning the complainant or any of his legal and administrative proceedings, in the respondents' possession.
3. By letter dated January 25, 1991, respondent Urban responded to the complainant's request and declined to provide documentation to the complainant maintaining that the information was exempt from disclosure pursuant to §§1-19b(b)(1) and 1-19(b)(4), G.S.
4. By letter of complaint dated February 15, 1991 and filed with the Commission on February 19, 1991 the complainant appealed the respondents' denial of access to the requested records. In addition, the complainant requested that the Commission impose civil penalties upon the respondents.
Docket #FIC 91-69 Page 2
5. At hearing the respondents further maintained that any additional information that the complainant is seeking from them is exempt from disclosure pursuant to §1-19(b)(10), G.S.
6. It is found that specifically, the complainant requested from the respondents all information relating to him which had not been previously provided to him in connection with the following Commission proceedings: contested case docket #'s FIC 90-148, FIC 90-347 and FIC 90-390 through FIC 90-398. The complainant also requested from the respondents records concerning a certain civil action and several other legal proceedings in federal court.
7. Section 1-19(b)(4), G.S., permits the nondisclosure of "records pertaining to strategy and negotiations with respect to pending claims and litigation to which the public agency is a party until such claim has been finally adjudicated or otherwise settled."
8. It is found that at the time of the complainant's document request, docket #'s FIC 90-390 through FIC 90-398 were pending before the Commission. The respondents in each of those pending cases were various University of Connecticut (hereinafter "University") officials and the respondents in this matter acted as counsel for the named respondents in those cases.
9. It is found that the complainant appealed the Commission's decision in docket #FIC 90-148 to court and that appeal is still pending.
10. It is found that the respondents represent the University in the complainant's appeal of docket #FIC 90-148.
11. It is found that at the time of the complainant's document request, the complainant had filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the Supreme Court of the United States in the Matter of Lamberto Lucarelli vs. Giovanni Sinicropi, et al.
12. It is found that the first-named defendant in the case described in paragraph 9, above, is a University official who was also a respondent in docket #FIC 90-394, referenced in paragraph 6, above.
13. It is found that at the time of the complainant's document request, docket #FIC 90-347 had been appealed by the complainant and is still pending in court.
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14. It is found that although the respondents were not parties in all of the above-referenced pending proceedings, the respondents act as counsel to the agencies and persons that are parties to these pending matters.
15. It is concluded that as counsel to the public agencies that are parties to pending claims and litigation, the respondents may assert the same claims of exemption to disclosure of public records as the agencies they represent.
16. It is therefore concluded that any of the requested records that relate to strategy and negotiations with respect to any case in which the respondents represent an agency that is a party to such case are exempt from disclosure pursuant to §1-19(b)(4), G.S.
17. Section 1-19(b)(10), G.S., permits the nondisclosure of "communications privileged by the attorney-client relationship."
18. Because the requested records are kept by the respondents in their capacity as counsel, it is concluded that any of the requested records which constitute communication privileged by the attorney-client relationship are exempt from disclosure pursuant to §1-19(b)(10), G.S.
19. The Commission need not address the respondents' §1-19b(b)(1), G.S., claim beyond making reference to its conclusion in paragraph 16, above, and finding that there is no evidence to support the assertion that disclosure would affect the rights of litigants under the laws of discovery of this state in the legal proceedings at issue.
20. The Commission takes administrative notice of the record and its decision in docket #FIC 90-148 in which the Commission dismissed the complaint in accordance with a settlement agreement entered into by the parties.
21. The respondents maintain that as a result of the settlement agreement reached in docket #FIC 90-148, the complainant has been provided with over eight hundred pages of information in response to the complainant's document requests, and that the respondents have made a good faith effort to provide the complainant with the information he is seeking.
22. The Commission declines to impose a civil penalty.
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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 provide the complainant with a copy of any record requested by the complainant that is not exempt from disclosure by virtue of §§1-19(b)(4) and 1-19(b)(10), G.S.
2. In complying with this order, the respondents need not provide an additional copy of any document already provided to the complainant by the respondents or by any agency or person represented by the respondents.
3. If, according to the terms of this order, no additional records will be provided to the complainant, the respondents shall so inform the complainant in writing within one month of this final decision.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of February 19, 1992.
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission
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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:
21 Howard Street
Old Saybrook, CT 06475
Ralph E. Urban, Assistant Attorney General, State of Connecticut
State of Connecticut, Office of the Attorney General
c/o Assistant Attorney General William H. Kleinman
110 Sherman Street
Hartford, CT 06105
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission