FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
Alexander Wood and Journal Inquirer,
against Docket #FIC 92-29
Commissioner, State of Connecticut, Department of Public Safety, Division of State Police,
Respondent January 19, 1993
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on July 28, 1992, 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. By letter dated December 11, 1991, the complainant requested from the respondent access to examine the following documents:
a. any document listing the names, addresses,
and license numbers of all professional bail
bondsmen operating in the State of Connecticut;
b. any annual report submitted to the respondent
pursuant to 29-151, G.S., by any licensed
professional bail bondsman for the years
1988, 1989 and 1990.
3. It is found that the complainants received access to the requested records described in paragraph 2a., above.
Docket #FIC 92-29 Page 2
4. Section 29-151, G.S., provides:
"Each professional bondsman licensed under the
provisions of this chapter shall annually, during
the month of January, on forms furnished by the
commissioner of public safety, report to said
commissioner in detail the names of the persons
for whom such bondsman has become surety during
the year ended December thirty-first preceding
with the date, the amount of the bond and the
fee charged and paid and such further information
as said commissioner requires."
5. With respect to the complainants' request in paragraph 2b., above, for the annual reports submitted to the respondent in 1988, 1989 and 1990 (hereinafter "annual reports"), it is found that on January 16, 1992 the complainant Wood went to the respondent's office and examined the subject annual reports. However, the respondent had redacted those portions of the annual reports that revealed the name of each accused person.
6. By letter dated January 21, 1992 and filed January 22, 1992, the complainants appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondent failed to provide them with access to those portions of the annual reports that reveal the names of accused persons.
7. It is concluded that the requested records are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d), G.S.
8. It is further concluded that in the absence of an applicable federal law or state statute that provides an exemption to disclosure of the subject annual reports, such reports are subject to disclosure in their entirety pursuant to 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S.
9. The respondent maintains that his redactions described in paragraph 5, above, were appropriate in accordance with the criminal erasure provisions contained in 54-142a, G.S.
10. Section 54-142a(a), G.S., provides:
"Whenever in any criminal case, on or after October 1,
1969, the accused, by a final judgment, is found not
guilty of the charge or the charge is dismissed, all
police and court records, and records of any state's
attorney pertaining to such charge shall be erased
upon the expiration of the time to file a writ of error
Docket #FIC 92-29 Page 3
or take an appeal, if an appeal is not taken, or upon
final determination of the appeal sustaining a finding
of not guilty or a dismissal, if an appeal is taken...."
11. It is found that the subject annual reports contain the following information: the date bond was posted, the accused's bond number or name, the amount of the bond, the fee charged and the fee paid.
12. The respondent claims that because the subject annual reports do not contain identifying information other than the name of the accused or the bond number, he has no way of determining the disposition of the accused's case or whether disclosure of the names of the accused persons, would contravene the erasure provisions contained in 54-142a(a), G.S.
13. It is found that given the limited information that the respondent heretofore has chosen to require in the annual reports submitted by bail bondsmen, it would be extremely difficult for the respondent to ascertain which of the names of the accused are subject to erasure pursuant to 54-142a(a), G.S.
14. The Commission therefore in its discretion declines to order the respondent to disclose the names of the accused for the years 1988, 1989 and 1990, as requested by the complainants.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. The complaint is hereby dismissed.
2. The Commission notes that the respondent is empowered to require bail bondsmen to supply in their annual reports additional information, such as criminal docket numbers, that would enable him to determine which names are subject to erasure and which are not. Consequently, the Commission shall not similarly decline to order the disclosure of the names of accused individuals whose records have not been erased pursuant to law, in future annual reports, no matter how difficult it might be for the respondent to ascertain that information. For, the Freedom of Information Act does not permit agencies to shield from public scrutiny otherwise public records merely because such records may contain some information that is exempt from disclosure.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of January 15, 1993.
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 92-29 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:
306 Progress Drive
Manchester, CT 06040
Commissioner, State of Connecticut,
Department of Public Safety, Division of State Police
c/o Asst. Atty. Gen. Margaret Quilter Chapple
110 Sherman Street
Hartford, CT 06105
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission