FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Edward A. Peruta and the American
News and Information Services Inc.,
Complainants
against Docket #FIC 1998-278
Walter J. Kupchunos, Jr., High
Sheriff, State of Connecticut,
Office of the County Sheriffs;
and State of Connecticut, Office
of the County Sheriffs
Respondents March 10, 1999

        The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on November 20, 1998, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts 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 respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(1), G.S.

        By letter dated September 8, 1998, the complainant made a written request to the respondents at the office of the respondent sheriff located on Lafayette Street in Hartford, Connecticut, for access to certain payroll and personnel records.

        3. By letter dated September 11, 1998, the complainant received a response from the administrative director of the Office of the County Sheriffs indicating that his request for access was being reviewed to determine the appropriateness of release and the availability of the requested records and informed him that the determination would be made in seven days.

        4. It is found that the Office of the County Sheriffs is located at 84 Wadsworth Street in Hartford, Connecticut and is the office that serves as the administrative arm for the respondent.

        5. By letter dated September 14, 1998, and filed on September 14, 1998, the complainant appealed to this Commission alleging that he had been denied prompt access to public records at and by the office of Walter Kupchunos, the High Sheriff of Hartford County. The complainant requested the imposition of civil penalties.

        6. 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, 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 . . .

        7. It is found that the requested records are public records within the definition of 1-18a(5), G.S.

        8. At the hearing on this matter, the complainant argued that he should not have had to go to the Office of the County Sheriff at 84 Wadsworth Street to obtain access to records requested from the office of the respondent department, but that Walter Kupchunos, the person to whom the request was made should have responded and compliance should have come from his office directly.

        9. It is found that the originals of the requested records are maintained at the Office of the County Sheriff but the respondent has not proven that he did not have copies of the records at the time of the request.

        10. It is also found that by letter dated September 22, 1998 the administrative director of the Office of the County Sheriff informed the complainant that the records were available for his review.

        11. It is found that there is nothing in the FOI Act which precludes an agency from forwarding an FOI Act request to the appropriate office or agency and allowing that agency to respond to and comply with the request.

        12. At the hearing in this matter, the complainant alleged that the administrative director of the Office of the County Sheriff further violated the FOI Act by requiring the complainant to make an appointment to review the requested documents.

        13. Although the respondent explained at the hearing on this matter that the administrative director requested that the complainant make arrangements to review the documents because of the limited space in the office and the location of the records, it is found that such allegation was not a part of the complainant’s original complaint filed with this Commission on September 14, 1998, and therefore will not be addressed in this decision.

        14. It is found that the respondent violated 1-19(a), G.S., with respect to those records described in paragraph 9, above, which were not proven to be unavailable at the office of Hartford County Sheriff.

 

        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 1-19(a), G.S.

        Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of March 10, 1999.

 

_________________________

Melanie R. Balfour

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 A. Peruta and the
American News and
Information Services Inc.
38 Parish Road
Rocky Hill, CT 06067
Walter J. Kupchunos, Jr.,
High Sheriff, State of
Connecticut, Office of the
County Sheriffs; and State
of Connecticut, Office of
the County Sheriffs
c/o Atty. Ann E. Lynch
Assistant Attorney General
110 Sherman Street
Hartford, CT 06105
and
c/o Atty. Lynn D. Wittenbrink
Assistant Attorney General
110 Sherman Street
Hartford, CT 06105
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

__________________________

Melanie R. Balfour

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC1998-278FD/mrb03171999