FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
against Docket #FIC 92-85
Hartford Police Department,
Respondent January 19, 1993
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on August 27, 1992, at which time the complainant, through his purported representative, Sherri Tanquay, 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 of request to the respondent dated March 2, 1992, the complainant requested that copies of all "papers, files and information" pertaining to case file #80-59691 be provided to him.
3. The complainant is presently serving a twenty-five year to life prison term as the result of his conviction for the murder that is the subject of case file #80-59691.
4. By letter of reply dated March 9, 1992, the records unit manager for the respondent department informed the complainant that his records request was being "returned," and that he should direct further inquiries to the state's attorney's office .
5. The requested information is a public record within the meaning of 1-15(a) and 1-18a(d), G.S.
6. By letter of complaint filed with this Commission on March 10, 1992, the complainant alleged that the requested records are illegally being withheld from him by the respondent, in violation of Connecticut's Freedom of Information Act (hereinafter "FOIA").
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7. It is found that on or about August 25, 1992, the records unit manager for the respondent provided the complainant with copies of a portion of the Case Incident Report ("CIR") for case file #80-59691.
8. It is found that approximately twenty pages of information was withheld from disclosure by the respondent's record unit manager.
9. At the hearing the respondent conceded that there was no legal basis for withholding those additional documents, and agreed to furnish the complainant with copies of all of the information concerning case file #80-59691 that is in the possession of the records unit manager.
10. It is found, however, that notwithstanding the respondent's offer at the hearing, there are many, many documents that are purportedly part of case file #80-59691 that have not been provided to the complainant.
11. Specifically, the respondent has failed to provide the complainant with the following information, (which is not an exhaustive list): fingerprint and ballistic information; witness statements and investigation reports; photographs of the crime scene and the murder suspects; interrogation and medical examiner reports; exculpatory evidence findings; and reports and information from other jurisdictions concerning the murder, specifically, the New York City and Milwaukee Police Departments.
12. It is found that the records unit manager does not have custody or control of all of the records that the complainant seeks; some of the records are located in other units or divisions of the respondent department.
13. The respondent concedes that physical evidence and other records responsive to the complainant's request could exist in the files or records of the respondent's evidentiary services division which has not been thoroughly searched.
14. After consultation with the respondent's crimes against persons division, the records unit manager maintains that no information concerning case file #80-59691 exists in that divisions files.
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15. At the hearing, the respondent volunteered to undertake a more exhaustive search of the files and records throughout its department in order to determine if it could provide the complainant with additional documentation responsive to his request.
16. By limiting the scope of its initial search for the records at issue, and failing to promtly comply with the complainant's records request, the respondent has violated the open records provisions of 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. Forthwith the respondent shall diligently search its files for all records concerning Cesilio Deleon, a.k.a. David Sanchez, and all records concerning case file #80-59691. The search shall be of all of the respondent's records and files, including, but not limited to, the crimes against persons and evidentiary divisions of the department.
2. The respondent shall, within ten (10) days of the date of mailing of the notice of final decision in this case, provide the complainant by mail with copies of: (1) any additional documentation uncovered during its search of its files, as ordered in paragraph 1 of this order, and (2) those CIR records identified in paragraphs 8, 9 and 10 of the findings. The respondent shall bear the costs of copying and mailing the records to the complainant.
3. The respondent shall, within fourteen (14) days of the date of mailing of the notice of final decision in this matter, serve upon this Commission a properly executed affidavit attesting to complete compliance with paragraphs 1 and 2 of this order.
4. If the affidavit, described in paragraph 3 of this order, is not received by the Commission within fourteen (14) days of the date of mailing of the notice of final decision in this matter, the Commission shall either refer such non-compliance to the appropriate authorities for criminal prosecution in accordance with 1-21K, G.S., or the chief of police of the respondent department shall be ordered to appear before the Commission to show cause why sanctions should not be levied against him in accordance with 1-21i(b), G.S.
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5. The Commission admonishes the respondent for its lack of care and diligence in the handling of the complainant's long standing requests.
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
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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:
c/o Sherrie Tanguay
P.O. Box 290266
Wethersfield, CT 06109
Hartford Police Department
c/o Attorney Evans Jacobs, Jr.
Office of the Corporation Counsel
550 Main Street
Hartford, CT 06103
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission