FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Ralph D. Sherman,
Complainants
against Docket #FIC 1998-327
State of Connecticut, Board of
Firearms Permit Examiners,
Respondents August 25, 1999

         The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on December 16, 1998, and April 13, 1999, 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 respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-200(1), G.S. [formerly 1-18a(1), G.S.].

        2. It is found that by letter dated September 14, 1998, the complainant made a request to the respondent for access to the entire contents of all appellant files maintained by the respondent for the fiscal year of 1997-1998, including the names and addresses of each appellant. The complainant explained in his letter that he only wanted access to inspect the records during regular office or business hours of the respondent.

        3. It is found that by letter dated September 18, 1998, the complainant reiterated his request described in paragraph 2, above, but specified that if any appellant had been represented by counsel, he also wanted access to the name and address of such counsel.

        4. It is found that by letter dated September 28, 1998, the complainant was informed by the Attorney General’s office, to which his request had been referred, that pursuant to 29-28, G.S., the names and addresses he requested were confidential and therefore would not be disclosed. The complainant was also advised that because the names and addresses had to be redacted from the records and copies would have to be made to comply with the complainant’s request, the complainant would be required to pay for copies of the records at twenty-five cents per page and that prepayment would be required because the estimated cost would be in excess of ten dollars.

        5. By letter dated October 9, 1998 and filed with this Commission on October 20, 1998, the complainant appealed the respondent’s denial of access to the requested records containing the names and addresses as described in paragraphs 2 and 3, above.

        6. Section 1-210(a), G.S. [formerly 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 records more fully described in paragraphs 2 and 3, above, are public records within the meaning of 1-200(1), G.S. [formerly 1-18(a)(1), G.S.].

        8. Section 29-28(d), G.S., provides in relevant part that:

[n]otwithstanding the provisions of sections 1-210 and 1-211a, the name and address of a person issued a permit to sell at retail pistols and revolvers . . . or a permit to carry pistols and revolvers . . . shall be confidential and shall not be disclosed . . . .

        9. It is found that the complainant’s request can be divided into two general categories: closed files, which refer to cases no longer subject to administrative adjudication by the respondent board or to judicial review by a court; and open files, which refer to cases still subject to administrative adjudication by the respondent board or to judicial review by a court.

        10. With respect to closed files, it is concluded that 1-210(a), G.S. [formerly 1-19(a), G.S.], and 29-28(a), G.S., exempt from disclosure those requested records in which the appellant before the respondent board was ultimately successful in obtaining the permit sought.

        11. Also with respect to closed files, it is concluded that those requested records in which the appellant before the respondent board was ultimately unsuccessful in obtaining the permit sought are not exempt from disclosure under 1-210(a), G.S. [formerly 1-19(a), G.S.], and 29-28(d), G.S., because they do not disclose "the name and address of a person issued a permit to sell at retail pistols and revolvers . . . or a permit to carry pistols and revolvers. . . ."

        12. With respect to open files, it is found that appellants before the respondent board are currently requesting reconsideration by the respondent board of a rejected permit application by either the Commissioner of Public Safety, a first selectmen, or a local police chief, or they are appealing to the respondent board for reinstatement of a revoked permit, or they are appealing an adverse decision by the respondent board to a court.

        13. It is also found that if the respondent board disclosed the names and addresses of appellants prior to a final decision on appeal to the respondent board or to a court, the respondent board might disclose the names and addresses of appellants who may be successful in their appeals and ultimately may be issued a permit.

        14. It is concluded therefore that the names and addresses of appellants whose appeal files are open are exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-210(a), G.S. [formerly 1-19(a), G.S.] and 29-28(a), G.S.

        15. It is therefore concluded that the respondent board violated 1-210(a), G.S. [formerly 1-19(a), G.S.], by failing to provide the complainant with access to inspect the appellant board’s closed files of appeals which have been finally adjudicated as dismissed.

 

        The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint.

        1. The respondent board shall forthwith provide the complainant with access to the entire contents of the appellant board’s closed files of appeals which have been ultimately dismissed, and all other requested records with the names and addresses of the appellants before the respondent board redacted.

        2. Because in this case the files ordered disclosed in paragraph 1 of the order, above, may also contain exempt information not susceptible to a simple process of redaction, in complying with paragraph 1 of the order, above, the respondent board may make copies of such records in order to facilitate the redaction of exempt information and may charge the complainant the applicable fee for copies, as provided in 1-212, G.S. [formerly 1-15, G.S.].

        Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of

August 25, 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:

 

Ralph D. Sherman
1001 Farmington Avenue
Suite 300
West Hartford, CT 06107
State of Connecticut, Board of
Firearms Permit Examiners
c/o Stephen Sarnoski
Assistant Attorney General
110 Sherman Street
Hartford, CT 06105
 

 

 

__________________________

Melanie R. Balfour

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC1998-327FD/mrb/08261999