FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by

Final Decision
(CORRECTED)

Edward A. Peruta,

 

 

Complainants

 

 

against

 

Docket #FIC 95‑157

Philip Dunn, Chief of Police,

Rocky Hill Police Department,

 

 

Respondents

February 28, 1996

 

 

 

 

 

The above‑captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 27, 1995, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. On September 11, 1995, the undersigned Hearing Officer issued an order to the respondent to submit copies of certain unredacted pages of the record at issue for in camera inspection, which records were submitted to the Commission on October 10, 1995.

 

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 and filed on May 11, 1995, the complainant appealed to the Commission and alleged that the respondent had failed to comply with the orders of this Commission in docket #FIC 94‑40 and #FIC 94‑118.

 

3. More specifically, the complainant alleges that he was not provided with prompt access to the record ordered disclosed in the above‑referenced matters, and that portions of the record were improperly redacted. The complainant requested the imposition of the maximum civil penalty against the respondent for his non‑compliance with the Commission's prior orders.

 

4. The Commission takes administrative notice of its record and final decisions in the following contested cases: Edward A. Peruta v. Curtis Rogai. Rocky Hill Town Attorney, #FIC 94‑40; Edward A. Ppruta v. Philip Dunn, Chief of Police, Rocky Hill Police Department, #FIC 94‑118; and Edward A. Peruta v. 0. Paul Shew, Rocky Hill Town Manaaer, Philip Dunn, Chief of Police, Rocky Hill Police Department, and Curtis Roggi, Rocky Hill Town Attorney, #FIC 95‑1 (hereinafter #FIC 94‑40, 94‑118 and 95‑1, respectively).

 

 

 

#FIC 95‑157 Page 2

 

5. It is found that #FIC 95-1 addressed the respondent's failure to promptly provide the records ordered disclosed in #FIC 94-40 and #FIC 94-118. Consequently, that issue is not properly the subject of this appeal.

 

6. At the hearing on this matter, the complainant alleged that he made a request for a certified copy of the subject journals on January 3, 1995, which the respondent did not comply with until March 14, 1995. However, since more than thirty days had elapsed before the filing of this complaint, Commission lacks jurisdiction to address the complainant's January 3, 1995 request.

 

7. The respondent in #94-40 is not a party to this appeal. Consequently, the Commission lacks jurisdiction to address whether or not the respondent in #FIC 94-40 has complied with the Commission's orders in that matter.

 

8. In #94-118, the Commission ordered the disclosure of the journals of former Rocky Hill Police Chief Philip Schnabel, which were maintained during his tenure as Police Chief, and authorized the following redactions

 

"...[T]he respondent may redact any medical information pertaining to Schnabel and any information that would reveal: the identities of confidential informants, information to be used in a prospective law enforcement action if prejudicial to such action, investigatory techniques not otherwise known to the general public, names and addresses of any victims of sexual assault, uncorroborated allegations subject to destruction pursuant to 1‑20c, G.S. and strategy with respect to collective bargaining."

 

9. It is found that the subject journals contain dated entries made during each day Schnabel worked as police chief in Rocky Hill, covering a period of ten years and totalling over 2,000 handwritten pages. As presently released in redacted form (complainant's exhibit A), journals contain redactions on 130 pages, ostensibly made in accordance with the Commission's orders in #FIC 94-118.

 

10. By letter dated June 21, 1995, and at the hearing on this matter, the respondent requested a continuance based on the complainant's failure to specifically allege which redactions were improper. Both requests were denied by the undersigned Hearing

 

 

 

 

 

 

#FIC 95‑157 Page 3

 

11. The complainant maintains that he was without the ability to specifically allege which redactions were improper, because the redacted portions of the journal were, necessarily, unavailable to him. Instead, the complainant offered two examples, where his own name and another individual's name had been redacted, as instances of improper redaction.

 

12. It is found that the complainant signed a release authorizing the respondent to reveal his name wherever it appears within the journals, but that such waiver did not exist at the time the orders were entered in #FIC 94‑118.

 

13. It is found that the respondent's attorney assured the complainant that he would be provided with a list of redactions and the reasons for them but no such list was provided to the complainant. The complainant also maintains that the respondent was required to provide him with a list of redactions and reasons for them pursuant to the case of United States Department of Justice v. Landano, 113 S.Ct. 2014 (1993).

 

14. It is found that the Commission lacks jurisdiction to enforce promises made between the parties.

 

15. At the hearing on this matter, the respondent did not present any evidence concerning the reasons for the redacted portions of the journals, however, a list of redactions and reasons for them was provided in accordance with the September 11, 1995 order.

 

16. It is found that the redactions under the following journal entry dates, as set forth in complainant's exhibit A, fairly fall within the Commission's order in #94‑118:

a. September 3, 1982, entry #5, but only the name the confidential informant.

b. September 7, 1982, entry #2.

c. September 30, 1982, entry #2.

d. November 5, 1982, entries #2 and #3.

e. May 5, 1983, entry #1.

f. June 3, 1983, entry #2.

g. June 19, 1984, entry #2.

h. July 10, 1985, entry #3.

i. May 8, 1986, entry #3.

j. June 17, 1986, entry #1.

k. February 4, 1987, entry #2.

l. July 23, 1987, entry #6.

m. August 28, 1987, entry #3.

n. January 6, 1989, entry #1, but only the officer's name.

o. November14, 1989, entry #2

 

 

 

 

 

#FIC 95-157 Page 4

 

p. November 20, 1990.

q. March 7, 1991, but only the name of the confidential informant.

r. June 12, 1991, page 2, but only the name and address of the victim

of sexual assault, and the first and fourth names listed in the side

note in the margin.

s. June 13, 1991.

t. June 14, 1991, page 1.

u. September 3, 1991, but only the medical diagnosis of Schnabel on

page 3.

v. September 10, 1991, page 2.

 

17. It is also found, however, that the respondent failed to prove that any of the other redactions in complainant's exhibit A either fairly fall within the Commission's order in #94-118 or are otherwise exempt from public disclosure.

 

18. It is therefore concluded that the respondent did not fully comply with the Commission's order in #94-118 with respect to the authorized redactions of the requested journals.

 

19. It is found, however, that the redactions at issue were made by the respondent in a good faith attempt to comply with the Commission's order in #94‑118, particularly given the scope of the task in redacting the journals at issue. Consequently, the Commission declines to impose civil penalties in this matter.

 

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

 

1. The respondent shall forthwith provide the complainant with unredacted copies of the currently redacted pages of complainant's exhibit A, without charge, except that the respondent need not release the redacted information contained in the journal entries more fully described in paragraph 16 of the findings, above.

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission a its regular meeting of February 28, 1996.

 

 

 

__________________________

Elizabeth A. Leiferta

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

Docket #FIC 95-157 Page 5

 

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:

 

Edward A. Peruta

38 Parish Road

Rocky Hill, CT 06067

 

Philip Dunn, Chief of Police,

Rocky Hill Police Department

c/o Michael D. Neubert, Esq.

Neubert, Pepe & Monteith, P.C.

195 Church Street, 13th floor

New Haven, CT 06510‑2026

 

 

 

 

__________________________

Elizabeth A. Leiferta

Acting Clerk of the Commission