FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by

FINAL DECISION

Edward C. Hall,

 

 

Complainants

 

 

against

 

Docket #FIC 1997-370

Commissioner, State of Connecticut, Department of Public Safety,

 

 

Respondents

April 22, 1998

        The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on February 4, 1998, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. Contested case docket #FIC 1997-381, Edward C. Hall v. Deputy Commissioner, State of Connecticut, State Fire Marshall was consolidated with the above-captioned matter for purpose of hearing.

        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(1), G.S.

        2. It is found that by letter dated October 20, 1997, the complainant requested that the respondent provide him with information, records, documentation, notes, tape recordings, computer accessible files on-line or off-line and any other records for the period January 1, 1987 through the date of his request, maintained by the respondent department concerning the complainant and/or Hall’s Thistle Springs Farm (hereinafter "requested records").

        3. It is found that by letter dated October 21, 1997 the respondent informed the complainant that his records request would be processed if he would clarify the specific records he was seeking, for example, criminal history records, licensing records or certification records. The respondent indicated in his October 21, 1997 letter "we will await to hear from you."

        4. Having failed to receive the requested records, the complainant, by letter dated November 12, 1997 and filed on November 19, 1997, appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act by denying him a copy of the requested records.

        5. At the hearing on this matter, the complainant clarified that he wants records for the period January 1 through December 31, 1997 pertaining to a search of his property and the search warrant ("search warrant"), including all investigation records and logs that led to the issue of the search warrant and all records generated after the search warrant was executed.

        6. It is found that the complainant never followed up with the respondent to clarify what records he was looking for.

        7. It is found that the respondent comprises numerous departments in addition to the state police and the state fire marshal departments.

        8. It is found that the respondent does not have the capability of identifying all documents containing the complainant’s name and/or Halls Thistle Springs Farm without conducting research within its numerous departments.

        9. It is found that the complainant’s request as written and described in paragraph 2, above, required the respondent to do research, which the respondent is not obligated to do under the provisions of the FOI Act.

        10. It is found however, that now that the complainant has clarified what records he is looking for the respondent, at the hearing into this matter, indicated its willingness to search its records, and provide the complainant with all non-exempt records responsive to the complainant’s request.

        11. Under the facts and circumstances of this case, it is concluded that the respondent did not violate 1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S.

        12. At the hearing into this matter, the complainant also contended that the respondent’s fees for copies of records conflict with the copying fees permitted under the FOI Act.

        13. Section 1-19(a), G.S., provides that "[E]xcept as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute, every person shall have the right to … receive a copy of … [public] records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-15."

        14. Section 1-15(a), G.S., provides that the fee for any copy provided by a state agency in accordance with the FOI Act shall not exceed twenty-five cents per page.

        15. It is found that there are fee provisions set forth at Chap. 529, G.S., that otherwise provide for the fee that the department of public safety is permitted to charge for a copy of its records.

        16. It is therefore, concluded that the fee provisions set forth at chap. 529, G.S., for a copy of the respondent’s records supersede the FOI fee provisions set forth at 1-15(a), G.S.

        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.

        2. The Commission urges the respondent, in accordance with its representations at the hearing, to search its records promptly and follow up with the complainant concerning its ability to release any non-exempt records.

        Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of April 22, 1998.

_________________________
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:
Edward C. Hall
35 Mansfield Hollow Road
Mansfield Center, CT 06250

Commissioner, State of Connecticut, Department of Public Safety
c/o Atty. Henri Alexandre
Assistant Attorney General’s Office
110 Sherman Street
Hartford, CT 06105

__________________________

Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC1997-370/FD/tcg/04271998