FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
Lloyd B. Crossland,
against Docket #FIC 92-48
Chairman, Norwalk Conservation Commission,
Respondent January 27, 1993
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on August 11, 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. The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.
2. By letter of complaint filed February 4, 1992, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent denied his January 6, 1992 request for access to certain documents, and alleging a January 21, 1992 request for the same records.
3. By additional letter of complaint filed February 10, 1992, the complainant amended his February 4 complaint to allege that the respondent did not comply with his January 21 request.
4. At the hearing on this matter, the complainant also requested the imposition of civil penalties against the respondent and the respondent's attorney.
5. It is found that the complainant by leter dated January 6, 1992, requested access to the minutes and audio tapes of the Norwalk Conservation Committee's meetings from January 1, 1982 through December 31, 1988.
6. It is also found that the complainant by letter dated January 21, 1992 repeated his request for the records described in paragraph 5, above.
7. It is found that the records described in paragraph 5, above, are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d) and 1-19(a), G.S.
Docket #FIC 92-48 Page 2
8. It is found that the respondent denied the complainant's January 6 and January 21 requests.
9. It is found that the complainant first began seeking the requested records in December of 1990.
10. It is found that the complainant and the Norwalk Conservation Commission were at the time of the hearing on this matter involved in litigation in state and federal court.
11. It is found that the complainant requested and was given an opportunity to inspect the minutes of the Norwalk Conservation Commission in late March and early April, 1991.
12. It is found that the parties initially treated the complainant's request for minutes as within the scope of the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act, and as not requiring a formal discovery request
13. It is found that the requested minutes and audiotapes later became the subject of discovery in the litigation between the parties, and that the respondent objected to interrogatories and requests for production regarding those documents on December 16, 1991.
14. At the request of the respondent, the Commission takes administrative notice of its record and final decision in Docket #FIC 88-365, Ray A. Cooke vs. Norwalk Police Department.
15. The final decision in Docket #FIC 88-365 provides in relevant part:
8. It is found that on August 9, 1988, the complainant, as plaintiff in the federal case, addressed a set of interrogatories to the respondent's police chief which included a request for the production of all documentation of any complainants about the detective, "including the results of any and all investigations, discipline and penalties arising from such complaints."
9. It is found that on August 18, 1988, the respondent's police chief, as defendant in the federal suit, objected to the request for production.
10. Thus it is concluded that at the time the complainant requested the records of the investigation, and at the time the complainant appealed to the Commission, the records were the subject of a discovery dispute in litigation brought by the complainant in District court.
Docket #FIC 92-48 Page 3
11. Since the question of whether the respondent should disclose the requested records to the complainant was properly before the District Court at the time of the complainant's appeal to the Comission, as a matter of policy the Commission extends full comity to the decision of the District court on that issue.
15. It is found that at the time of the complainant's January 6 and January 21, 1992 requests, the documents were also the subject of a discovery dispute between the parties, to be decided by a federal tribunal.
16. As a matter of comity between tribunals, therefore, the Commission declines to exercise it jurisdiction in a previously existing dispute between the parties that awaits decision by a federal tribunal.
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 regular meeting of January 27, 1993.
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 92-48 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:
Lloyd B. Crossland
64 Range Road
Wilton, CT 06897
Chairman, Norwalk Conservation Commission
c/o Attorney M. Jeffry Spahr
Office of the Corporation Counsel
P.O. Box 798
Norwalk, CT 06856
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission