FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision

 

William J. Murray,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 91-78

 

State of Connecticut, Deputy Director, Automated Systems, Superior Court, Court Operations,

 

Respondent February 19, 1992

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 7, 1991, August 13, 1991, and January 3, 1992, 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. On March 5, 1991, the complainant filed his complaint in which he alleged that the respondent failed to provide him with a copy of a computer tape.

 

2. It is found that the complainant began requesting a copy of a computer tape containing all felony convictions in Connecticut by letter dated July 3, 1990.

 

3. It is found that the complainant's July 3, 1990 request was forwarded to the respondent, who replied that the Judicial Department does not maintain a master computer tape of all felony convictions entered in this state.

 

4. It is found that the complainant subsequently visited the Information Systems Unit, Administrative Services, Judicial Department, and was informed that the Unit houses a computer system that is the mainframe for the network of computer terminals housed in the Superior Court clerks' offices, that backup tapes were routinely made before each purge of the system and that 15 backup tapes existed, and that a request for the tapes should be directed to the respondent.

 

5. It is found that on January 7, 1991, the complainant directed his request to the respondent and asked the respondent to provide him with a master computer tape of all felony convictions in the State of Connecticut, except for any information that was nondisclosable.

 

Docket #FIC 91-78 Page Two

 

6. It is found that the complainant repeated his request to the respondent on February 25, 1991.

 

7. It is found that at the first hearing on this matter on July 3, 1990, the respondent agreed to a schedule in which to provide the requested data, with the understanding that the form in which the data was maintained created numerous technical problems that required solutions before the complainant's request could be satisfied.

 

8. It is found that prior to compliance by the respondent with the complainant's request a dispute arose concerning cost and whether the Freedom of Information Commission had jurisdiction over the complaint.

 

9. At the hearing on January 3, 1992, the respondent moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the Commission lacks jurisdiction.

 

10. The respondent claims that the requested records are court records and hence do not involve an administrative function of the Judicial Department, and that therefore the respondent is not a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S., and the requested records are not public records or files within the meaning of 1-18a(d), G.S.

 

11. Sections 51-5a and 51-9, G.S., are statutes that describe the duties of the Judicial Department's chief court administrator and executive secretary, respectively, and provide examples of administrative functions within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.

 

12. Section 51-9(17), G.S., provides:

 

Under the supervision and direction of the chief court administrator, the executive secretary and other members of the staff of the office of chief court administrator shall:

 

(17) Design, implement and maintain, as deemed feasible by the chief court administrator, computerized automatic data processing systems for use in the supreme court and superior court or divisions of the superior court ....

 

13. It is found that the requested records are used by the respondent for the processing and management of cases.

 

14. It is found that the requested records are maintained by the respondent as part of computerized data that is used to produce dockets and monitor the current criminal case load.

 

Docket #FIC 91-78 Page Three

 

15. It is found that the requested records are used to create court calendars, assignment lists and dormancy lists.

 

16. It is therefore found that the creation, maintenance and custody of the requested records fulfill the scheduling and record-keeping functions of the Judicial Department within the meaning of Rules Committee of the Superior Court v. FOIC, 192 Conn. 234 (1984).

 

17. It is also found that the requested records relate principally to the management of the internal institutional machinery of the court system within the meaning of Rules Committee of the Superior Court v. FOIC, 192 Conn. 234 (1984).

 

18. It is concluded that the creation, maintenance and custody of the requested records are administrative functions of the Judicial Department within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.

 

19. It is concluded that the respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.

 

20. The respondent's motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of jurisdiction is therefore denied.

 

21. It is concluded that the requested records are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d) and 1-19(a), G.S.

 

22. It is also concluded that the requested records are records concerning the administration of a public agency within the meaning of 1-19b(a), G.S.

 

23. At the hearing, the respondent represented that he has prepared the requested records for the complainant and will provide them to the complainant if the complainant pays the fees sought by the respondent. Therefore, the only question remaining is whether the total charges assessed by the respondent are lawful.

 

24. It is found that the respondent proposes to charge the complainant a total of $1373.00 for the requested records. The charges, which are based on a cost analysis provided by the Judicial Information Systems Unit of the Office of the Chief Court Administrator, consist of:

 

$ 33.00 . . . . . . . . for retrieval of tapes from

storage;

$1155.00 . . . . . . . . for 21 hours of lead systems

analyst time;

$ 110.00 . . . . . . . . for 2 hours of technical support; and

$ 75.00 . . . . . . . . for CPU time used.

 

Docket #FIC 91-78 Page Four

 

25. Public Act 91-343 provides in pertinent part:

 

(b) Any person or public agency seeking on line or dial up access to any data processing system operated and administered by the office of the chief court administrator, or seeking information stored in such data processing system in a format other than as provided by the office of the chief court administrator, may be required to pay to the office of the chief court administrator an amount, as established in a fee schedule determined by the office of the chief court administrator, for deposit by the office of the chief court administrator in a fund established in subsection (a) of this section. Such fee schedule may include reasonable charges for personal services, fringe benefits, supplies and any other expenses related to maintaining, improving and providing such data processing services including, but not limited to, program modifications, training expenses, central processor user time and the rental and maintenance of equipment.

 

26. It is found that the complainant sought information stored in a data processing system operated and administered by the office of the chief court administrator, in a format other than as provided by the office of the chief court administrator.

 

27. The respondent offered no evidence to prove that he had established or referred to a fee schedule as referenced in P.A. 91-343.

 

28. Public Act 91-347 limits the fees that public agencies may charge for copies of computerized records to the cost of the copy to the agency, but its provisions do not take effect until July 1, 1992.

 

29. Public Act 91-343 authorizes fees that may include charges for expenses beyond the cost of the copy to the agency, such as expenses related to maintaining, improving and providing data processing services.

 

30. It is found that the fee which the respondent seeks to charge is not in excess of the cost to the respondent of producing the record.

 

31. It is concluded that the fee the respondent seeks to charge for producing a copy of the requested record is not unlawful under the statutes applicable at all relevant times to this complaint.

 

Docket #FIC 91-78 Page Five

 

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

 

1. The complaint is dismissed.

 

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

 

Docket #FIC 91-78 Page Six

 

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:

William J. Murray

74 Lawton Road

Canton, CT 06019

 

Frank M. Goetz

Deputy Director, Court Operations Drawer N, Station A

Hartford, CT 06106

(also c/o Attorney Martin R. Libbin

Counsel, Legal Services

Drawer N, Station A

Hartford, CT 06106)

 

 

Debra L. Rembowski

Acting Clerk of the Commission