FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Evan Goodenow and The New Haven
Register,
Complainants
against Docket #FIC 1998-108
Comptroller, Department of Finance,
Town of Wallingford; and Chief,
Wallingford Police Department, Town of
Wallingford
Respondents August 12, 1998
	The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 20, 1998, at 
which time the complainants and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and 
presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.  The Division of Criminal 
Justice requested, and was granted, intervenor status at the hearing.  
	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(1), G.S.
	2.   By letter dated April 21, 1998, the complainants requested that the respondent 
comptroller provide them with access to all motor vehicle grand list supplements for the 
years 1993 to 1996.    
	3.   By letter dated April 23, 1998, the respondent comptroller provided access to 
so much of the records as were in his offices, but denied access to any requested records 
which had been removed from his offices by the Wallingford Police Department on the 
grounds that such records were exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(3)(C), G.S. 
	4.   By letter dated and filed April 27, 1998, the complainants appealed to the 
Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 
by denying them access to the outstanding requested records. 
	5.   Section 1-19(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that “[e]xcept as otherwise 
provided by any federal law or state statute, 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….”
	6.   It is found that the records at issue were seized in March, 1998 pursuant to 
54-36a(b), G.S., by the respondent department at the direction of the intervening 
division.  
	7.   It is further found that, at the time of the complainants’ request, the 
respondent comptroller did not maintain or keep the records at issue within the meaning 
of 1-19(a), G.S., and it is therefore concluded that the respondent comptroller did not 
violate such provision by failing to provide the complainants with such records. 
	8.   The intervening division contends that the records at issue are not public 
records since such records are in its custody as part of an ongoing investigation.  
	9.   It is found that the records at issue were seized at the direction of the 
intervening division for use in its investigation of a criminal complaint filed with such 
division. 
	10.  Section 1-19c, G.S., provides that the intervening division “…shall not be 
deemed to be a public agency except in respect to its administrative functions” for the 
purposes of the FOI Act.  
	11.  It is found that the records at issue do not relate to the administrative 
functions of the intervening division and it is therefore concluded that the Commission 
has no authority to order the release of such records under the facts and circumstances of 
this case.   Accordingly, it is further concluded that the respondent department did not 
violate 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to provide the complainants with such records.
	The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of 
the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
	1.   The complaint is hereby dismissed.  
	2.  The Commission notes that the requested records, portions of motor vehicle 
grand lists, are typically available for public inspection in every other context, and that 
such records are an important monitoring resource and a tool in commerce.  The 
Commission further notes that, unless the original lists were needed for forensic evidence, 
the intervening division might have accomplished its investigative goals by simply copying 
the original lists and leaving the original lists with the comptroller.  The Commission urges 
the intervening division to consider such an alternative in the future before seizing public 
records, depriving the public of the right to know, and in some cases interfering with the 
conduct of commerce.  
	3.  The Commission further urges the intervening division to provide the 
complainants with a copy of the requested records.  


	Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular 
meeting of August 12, 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:
Evan Goodenow and The New Haven Register
174 Center Street
Wallingford, CT 06492
Comptroller, Department of Finance, Town of Wallingford; and Chief, Wallingford Police 
Department, Town of Wallingford
c/o Atty. Janis M. Small
Town Attorney
Town of Wallingford
45 South Main Street
Wallingford, CT 06492
Division of Criminal Justice
c/o Atty. Timothy J. Sugrue
Executive Assistant State’s Attorney
Office of the Chief State’s Attorney
300 Corporate Place
Rocky Hill, CT 06067

__________________________
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission




FIC1998-108/FD/tcg/08181998