FREEDOM OF INFORMATION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
Docket #FIC 1996-610
September 10, 1997
In the Matter of a Complaint by Robert C. Hunt, Complainant
Carmen Boudier, Commissioner, State of Connecticut, Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, Respondent
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 16, 1997, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, 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 in her capacity as a member of the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities ("CHRO") is a public agency within the meaning of Section 1-18a(a), G.S.
2. By letters dated November 12 and December 6, 1996, the complainant requested that the respondent furnish for inspection and copying all records in the respondents possession relating to the case, CHRO v. Town of Avon, et al., case number 9415041 ("requested records").
3. By letter dated November 27, 1996, Philip Murphy, Counsel to the CHRO, responded that the only documents that the respondent had "a present recollection" of receiving were those related to the Town of Avons Petition for a Declaratory Ruling.
4. By letter dated December 24, 1996, and filed on December 30, 1996, the complainant appealed to the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Commission, alleging that the respondent violated the FOI Act by failing to respond or comply adequately with the requests to inspect and copy the requested records, and requesting that sanctions be imposed on the respondent.
5. At the hearing, the complainant contended that the respondent did not perform a diligent search for the requested records and that the respondent should be admonished to comply with the records retention statutes.
6. At the hearing, the respondent stated that she generally followed a practice of leaving records on the table at the Commission offices following meetings, that she retained only a very few sets of minutes of Commission meetings at her own place of regular employment, which records she searched as research for the Murphy letter of November 27, 1996, and that she maintained no Commission records either at her home or at the Commission offices.
7. Section 1-19(a), G.S., provides in pertinent part:
Except as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute, all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency, whether or not such records are required by any law or by any rule or regulation, 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. Section 1-15(a), G.S., in turn, provides in pertinent part that:
(a)ny person applying in writing shall receive, promptly, upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record.
9. It is found that the respondent maintained few CHRO documents of any sort in her custody, that the respondent generally relied on briefings by Attorney Murphy for information on the status of cases, and accordingly, that a search of CHRO documents in her possession was a straightforward matter of inspecting a few records at her place of regular employment.
10. It is found that the respondent appeared in person at the hearing and that her testimony concerning the few CHRO records that she had in her possession was sufficient to justify findings that she has performed a diligent search and that a diligent search affidavit is not warranted in this case.
11. In light of the above, it is concluded that the respondent has not violated § § 1-19(a) or 1-15(a), G.S., or any other provision of the FOI Act with reference to the matters at issue herein. Therefore, there is no basis to impose the sanctions requested by the complainant.
12. It is also concluded that the Commission lacks jurisdiction to enter an order with respect to compliance with the states records retention statutes.
The following order by the FOI Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. The complaint is hereby dismissed.
2. The complainant may, of course, pursue any allegations of violations of records retention requirements with the state librarian who has jurisdiction over such matters, including the question of the applicability of records retention schedules to individual public officials as opposed to the offices of state agencies.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of September 10, 1997.
Doris V. Luetjen
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:
Robert C. Hunt
c/o James A. Budinetz
Pepe & Hazard
Hartford, CT 06103-4302
Carmen Boudier, Commissioner, State of Connecticut, Commission
on Human Rights and Opportunities
c/o Raymond P. Pech
21 Grand Street
Hartford, CT 06106
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission