FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
against Docket #FIC 95-212
Acting Deputy Commissioner, State of Connecticut,
Department of Correction,
Respondent May 22, 1996
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on February 7, 1996, 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. It is found that by letter dated June 2, 1995, the complainant requested that the respondent provide him with a copy of the following documentation ("June request"):
a. policy and procedure for handling complaints against Department of Correction ("DOC") staff;
b. description of the complaint filed by the complainant with DOC Commissioner Meachum ("DOC complaint");
c. description of the decision-making process to investigate the DOC complaint;
d. the nature of all investigations into the DOC complaint;
e. names of persons interviewed with regard to the DOC complaint;
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f. facts used to formulate a conclusion of the investigation, including the reasons for: 1) the excessive delay in bringing the DOC complaint to closure, and 2) not keeping the complainant informed about the status of the investigation into his complaint.
3. By letter of complaint dated June 16, 1995, and filed with this Commission on June 26, 1995, the complainant alleged that the respondent failed to respond to, or comply with his June request.
4. It is found that the requested documents are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d), G.S.
5. At the hearing on this matter, the respondent acknowledged that six months elapsed before any action was taken on the complainant's June request.
6. It is found that the DOC complaint referred to in paragraph 2b, above, was received by then DOC Commissioner Meachum.
7. It is found that in December 1995, the respondent forwarded the complainant's June request to the personnel director for DOC with instructions to locate and compile the requested records.
8. It is found that in late December 1995, the personnel director for DOC forwarded the documentation that she had compiled to the attorney general's office for review.
9. It is found that in late January 1996, after reviewing the DOC documents, the assistant attorney general assigned to handle the matter for the respondent mailed to the complainant the records that had been forwarded to her from the DOC, in response to the complainant's June request.
10. It is found that in late January 1996, the only documentation provided to the complainant by the respondent was a copy of his DOC complaint without the attachments which were included with the original DOC complaint mailed to Meachum.
11. At the hearing on this matter the respondent offered a second tender of compliance to the complainant.
12. After reviewing the documents tendered at the hearing, however, the complainant claimed that neither the documents mailed to him in late January 1996, nor the documents provided at the hearing fully comply with his June request.
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13. More specifically, the complainant stated that his June request was only partially complied with, and the remaining requested records were simply not provided.
14. It is found that the complainant had submitted documents to the respondent attached to his original DOC complaint, referred to in paragraph 2b, above, which were not in either set of documents tendered by the respondent.
15. It is found that the respondent failed to show that they had not received the attachments referred to in paragraph 14, above, because neither Meachum nor the respondent Acting Deputy Commissioner, David Elliott, attended the hearing on this matter.
16. With respect to the documents requested in the complainant's June request, as identified in paragraphs 2a., and 2c. through 2f., above, the respondent claims that there was no investigation of the complainant's DOC complaint and therefore no documentation.
17. Despite the respondent's claim, however, the Commission has insufficient evidence to determine whether any documents exist relating to paragraphs 2a. and 2c., above, because the documents requested in paragraph 2a. concern DOC policy and procedure, and the documents sought in paragraph 2c. should also be read to include documentation relating to a decision by the respondent not to investigate the DOC complaint.
18. Section 1-15(a), G.S. states in relevant part that:
Any person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record.
19. It is concluded that the respondent violated 1-15(a), G.S., by failing to promptly comply with the complainant's June request.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
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1. The respondent shall immediately conduct a search for any records which are responsive to the complainant's June request, in whatever form, either within his possession or subject to his control, and to the extent such records exist, provide the complainant with copies of such records, free of charge.
2. If the search ordered in paragraph 1 of the order, above, reveals that no records exist which are responsive to the complainant's June request, then the respondent shall execute an affidavit detailing the particulars of the search conducted, and stating that no such documents exist. The respondent must provide the complainant with such affidavit within seven days of the date of mailing of the notice of final decision in this matter.
3. Henceforth the respondent shall strictly comply with the disclosure requirements of 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S., particularly the clear statutory mandate to provide copies of, or access to public records promptly upon request.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of May 22, 1996.
Elizabeth A. Leifert
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:
P.O. Box 674
Storrs. CT 06268
Acting Deputy Commissioner, State of Connecticut, Department of Correction
c/o Madeline A. Melchionne, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
110 Sherman Street
Hartford, CT 06105-2192
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission