FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
James F. McLaughlin,
Complainants
against Docket #FIC 1997-280
State of Connecticut, Department
of Children & Families,
Respondents July 8, 1998
	The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on November 21, 1997, 
and January 9, 1998, at which times the complainant and the respondent appeared, 
stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the 
complaint.  The case caption has been corrected to reflect the appropriate name of the 
respondent.
	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. 
(prior to October 1, 1997, 1-18a(a), G.S.).
	2.   By letter dated June 26, 1997, the complainant informed the respondent that 
Attorney Mary Chromik represented him and his wife in a matter related to his minor 
children.  Such letter informed the respondent that all communications should be directed 
to such attorney.
	3.   By letter dated July 26, 1997, the complainant requested that the respondent 
provide him with access to all records relating to a complaint filed with the respondent 
regarding the complainant’s children and subsequent investigation into such complaint.  
Such letter informed the respondent that the complainant was an attorney representing 
himself, his wife, and his two minor children.   
	4.   It is found that, under cover letter dated August 4, 1994 (sic), the respondent 
provided Attorney Chromik with a copy of the investigation conducted in response to the 
complaint described in paragraph 3, above.  It is further found that such letter states that 
the records were provided pursuant to a request made by Attorney Chromik.  It is further 
found that the records provided to such attorney included the identity of the person 
characterized as a disinterested party, as more fully described in paragraph 19, below.
	5.   It is found that the complainant is in receipt of records related to a Department 
of Children & Families investigation involving his minor children, which he received 
from Attorney Chromik.  
	6.   By letter dated September 2, 1997, and filed with the Commission on 
September 4, 1997, the complainant alleged that the respondent violated the Freedom of 
Information (hereinafter “FOI”) Act by denying him access to the records requested in his 
letter described in paragraph 3, above.   
	7.   By letter dated December 19, 1997, the complainant requested that the 
Commission conduct an in-camera review of the requested records.  Additionally, the 
complainant requested that the Commission impose sanctions upon the respondent.  
	8.   It is found that the requested records are public records within the meaning of 
1-18a(5), G.S. (prior to October 1, 1997, 1-18a(d), G.S.) and 1-19(a), G.S.
	9.   It is found that, after the November 21, 1997, hearing and prior to the January 
9, 1998, hearing on this matter, the respondent provided the complainant with a copy of 
the requested records, as described in paragraph 3, above, excepting certain portions 
thereof, which the respondent contends are exempt from disclosure pursuant to statute.  
It is also found that the records provided to the complainant at such time included 
several pages which had not been previously provided to Attorney Chromik.  
	10.  The respondent moved to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that it had 
provided the requested records to the complainant through his attorney in the August 
letter, as described in paragraph 4, above, and that therefore the allegation described in 
paragraph 6, above, was false.  The complainant contended that the respondent’s 
provision of records to Attorney Chromik did not satisfy his July 26, 1997 request since 
such request was made, in part, on behalf of the complainant’s two minor children, whom 
such attorney did not represent.  
	11.  It is found that the complainant’s July 26, 1997 request letter did not inform 
the respondent that Attorney Chromik no longer represented the complainant and his 
spouse.  Consequently, it was not inappropriate to provide information to the 
complainant’s attorney.  However, since the August provision of records to Attorney 
Chromik was apparently in response to a separate and earlier request by such attorney and 
since certain records were not provided at that time, the respondent’s motion to dismiss as 
described in paragraph 10, above, is denied.    
	12.  The respondent next moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject 
matter jurisdiction, contending that the provisions of 17a-28(m)(1), G.S. and 17a-28(i), 
G.S., deprive the Commission of jurisdiction in this matter.    
	13.  Section 17a-28(m)(1), G.S., provides in relevant part that:
“[a]ny person , attorney or authorized representative 
aggrieved by a violation of subsection (b),(e), (f), (g), (h), 
(i) or (k) of this section…may seek judicial relief….”
	14.  The respondent’s motion to dismiss described in paragraph 12, above, is 
denied, since 17a-28(m)(1), G.S. and 17a-28(i), G.S., provide the complainant with a 
separate avenue of appeal but do not deprive the Commission of jurisdiction in this 
matter.
	15.   Section 1-19(a), G.S., provides in relevant part:
[e]xcept as otherwise provided by any federal law or state 
statute, all records maintained…by any public agency…shall 
be public records and every person shall have the right to 
inspect such records promptly during regular office…hours 
or to receive a copy of such records….
	16.  The respondent contends that 17a-28(l) and 17a-28(i), G.S., provide bases 
to withhold the redacted portions of requested records from mandatory disclosure.  
	17.  Section 17a-28(l), G.S., in relevant part provides:
“…information identifying an individual who reported 
abuse or neglect of a person shall not be released if the 
individual requested that his identity be kept 
confidential….” 
	18.  Section 17a-28(i), G.S., provides in relevant part:
“…the name of any individual who cooperates with an 
investigation of a report of child abuse or neglect shall be 
kept confidential upon request or upon a determination by 
the department that disclosure of such information may be 
detrimental to the safety or interests of the individual….”
	19.  On January 22, 1998, the respondent provided the subject records to the 
Commission for an in-camera inspection.  Upon such inspection, it is found that the 
respondent has redacted only those portions of the records which identify two individuals, 
one who is characterized as a mandated reporter and one who is characterized as a 
disinterested party.  
	20.  Based upon a review of the records submitted for in-camera inspection, it is 
found that the identity of the individual characterized as a mandated reporter is not 
subject to mandatory disclosure by virtue of the provisions of 17a-28(l), G.S., and it is 
therefore concluded that the respondent did not violate the provisions of 1-19(a), G.S., 
by redacting such information from the records provided to the complainant. 
	21.  It is found that 17a-28, G.S., does not define the term “disinterested party.”  
It is further found that 17a-28(i), G.S., provides a basis to withhold the identity of an 
individual who cooperates with an investigation of a child abuse report, provided the 
respondent determines that disclosure of such identity would be detrimental to the safety 
or interests of such individual.  It is further found that the respondent made such 
determination with respect to the individual characterized by the respondent as a 
disinterested party, as described in paragraph 19, above.   
	22.  Based upon a review of the records submitted for in-camera inspection, it is 
found that the identity of the individual characterized as a disinterested party by the 
respondent, as described in paragraph 19, above, is not subject to mandatory disclosure 
by virtue of the provisions of 17a-28(i), G.S., and it is therefore concluded that the 
respondent did not violate the provisions of 1-19(a), G.S., by redacting such information 
from the records provided to the complainant. 
	23.  It is found that the respondent’s inadvertent failure to redact the name of the 
disinterested party from the records provided to Attorney Chromik does not bar it from 
redacting such information from the records later provided directly to the complainant.  
	24.  However, it is found that the respondent violated the promptness provision of 
1-19(a), G.S., by failing to provide the complainant with the several pages of records 
described in paragraph 9, above, until several months after his request.   
	25.  The Commission declines to impose sanctions upon the respondent under the 
facts and circumstances of this case. 
	The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of 
the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
	1.   Henceforth, the respondent shall comply with the promptness requirement of 
1-19(a), G.S.  
	Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular 
meeting of July 8, 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:
James F. McLaughlin
4 Victory Street
Shelton, CT 06484
State of Connecticut, Department of Children & Families
c/o Atty. William Bumpus
Assistant Attorney General
110 Sherman Street
Hartford, CT 06105

__________________________
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission




FIC1997-280/FD/tcg/07141998