FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
against Docket #FIC 1996-048
Gerald Gore, Legal Affairs Unit,
State of Connecticut, Department of
Public Safety and Detective Michael
Bochicchio, Special Licensing & Firearms
Unit, State of Connecticut, Department of
Public Safety, Division of State Police,
Respondent(s) October 16, 1996
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 12, 1996, at which time the complainant and respondents appeared and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. This case was consolidated for hearing with Docket #FIC1996-047, Shirley Vigneri v. Gerald Gore, Legal Affairs Unit, State of Connecticut, Department of Public Safety and State of Connecticut, Department of Public Safety.
After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:
1. The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of §1-18a(a), G.S.
2. By letter of complaint dated February 10, 1996, and filed with this Commission on February 13, 1996, the complainant alleged that the respondents violated §§1-15 and 1-19, G.S., by failing to provide prompt access to, and copies of specified public records, and by imposing “a capricious and arbitrary condition [precedent] to obtaining public records.” The complainant requested that the Commission impose the maximum civil penalty upon the named respondents.
3. It is found that by letter dated
January 18, 1996 (“first request”), the complainant requested that the
respondents provide her with access to
“all documents, records, warrants, orders and similar instruments, including,
but not limited to, papers and tape recorded
conversations relating to Case Number: K95-103887 [concerning the revocation of her firearms permit” (“permit records”).
4. It is found that the permit records are public records within the meaning of §§1-18a(d) and 1-19(a), G.S.
5. It is found that on January 19, 1996 (“first visit”), the complainant made an in-person request for access to the permit records described in paragraph 3 of the findings, above.
6. It is found that the permit records were readily available when the complainant made her first visit to the state’s Department of Public Safety (“DPS”).
7. Section 1-19(a), G.S., states in
relevant part that:
… all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency, … shall be
public records and every person shall have the right to inspect such records
promptly during regular office or business hours or to receive a copy of such
records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-15.
8. It is found that during the complainant’s first visit to DPS respondent Bochicchio initially denied the complainant’s request, then more than an hour later he allowed her to inspect the permit records.
9. It is concluded that respondent Bochiccio violated the provisions of §1-19(a), G.S., when he failed to promptly provide the complainant with access to the permit records.
10. It is found that by letters dated January 24, 26 and 28, 1996 (“follow up requests”), the complainant requested that the respondents provide her with copies of her permit records.
11. It is found that on or about January 26, 1996 (“second visit”), the complainant again went to DPS and made an in-person request for copies of the records described in paragraph 3 of the findings, above.
12. It is found that the respondent Gore failed to promptly provide the complainant with copies of the permit records during her second visit to DPS.
13. It is found that after some delay, respondent Gore provided illegible copies of the permit records to the complainant during her second visit to DPS, however, the records copied were not the records viewed by the complainant during her first visit.
14. As a result, it is found that by letter dated January 29, 1996 (“final request”), the complainant again requested that the respondents provide her with a copy of the permit records described in paragraph 3 of the findings, above, and viewed by her during her first visit to DPS.
15. It is found that by letter dated January 31, 1996 the respondent Gore informed the complainant that there were ten pages of records that were responsive to her final request, that prepayment of the copying fee of two dollars and fifty cents (“fee”) was required, as well as a “written assurance [from her] that the information [provided was] not for use in pending litigation to which the state is a party,” (“precondition”).
16. It is found that on or about February 6, 1996, respondent Gore forwarded a legible copy of the requested permit records to the complainant after she paid the fee and complied with the precondition.
17. It is found that the requested case records were readily available when the complainant made her second visit to DPS.
18. It is found that the precondition that the respondent Gore imposed upon the complainant is not permitted under the Freedom of Information Act.
19. It is concluded that respondent Gore violated the provisions of §§1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to promptly provide the complainant with a legible copy of the permit records.
20. At the hearing on this matter the respondents provided the complainant with additional permit records.
21. It is found that the respondents’ violations of the complainant’s rights conferred under §§1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S., were without reasonable grounds.
following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the
record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. Henceforth the respondents shall strictly comply with the provisions of §§1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S.
2. Within forty-five days of the date of mailing the notice of final decision in this case the respondents Gore and Bochicchio shall each remit to this Commission a civil penalty in the amount one hundred dollars ($100.00).
3. Within thirty (30) days of the date of mailing the notice of final decision in this case the respondents shall schedule and attend an educational workshop on the FOI Act at the Commission’s offices located at 18-20 Trinity Street, 1st Floor, Hartford, Connecticut. The attendance of those persons responsible for compliance with FOI Act requests is required.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of October 16, 1996.
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission
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 Scott & Scott
PO Box 192
Colchester, CT 06415
Gerald Gore, Legal Affairs Unit, State of Connecticut, Department of Public Safety and, State of Connecticut, Department of Public Safety,
c/o Ann E. Lynch, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
110 Sherman Street
Hartford, CT 06105
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission
NOTICE REGARDING DOCKET #FIC 1996-048 (FICAP #1996-028):
BY ORDER OF THE COURT IN CONNECTICUT DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY, DIVISION OF STATE POLICE AND GERALD GORE V. FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION AND SHIRLEY VIGNERI, DOCKET NO. CV96-0565902, SUPERIOR COURT, JUDICIAL DISTRICT OF HARTFORD/NEW BRITAIN AT HARTFORD (MCWEENY, J.), DATED AUGUST 25, 1997, THE ORDERS IN THIS MATTER WITH RESPECT TO THE IMPOSITION OF CIVIL PENALTIES AND ATTENDANCE AT A FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION WORKSHOP (PARAGRAPHS 2 AND 3 OF THE ORDER) WERE VACATED.
___________________ January 24, 2000
Mitchell W. Pearlman Date
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