FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Judith F. Machuga and State of
Connecticut, Division of Public Defender
Services, Superior Court, G.A. 13,
Complainants
against Docket #FIC 1999-040
Chief, Police Department, Town of
East Windsor; and Police Department,
Town of East Windsor,
Respondents August 25, 1999

        The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on March 22, 1999 at which time the complainants and the respondents 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 1-200(1), G.S., (formerly 1-18a(1), G.S.).

        2. It is found that by letters dated December 23, 1998 and January 25, 1999, the complainants requested that the respondent chief of police provide them with all internal affairs investigation reports and materials concerning Officer John Scavatto (hereinafter "requested records").

        3. Having failed to receive the requested records, the complainants, by letter dated January 29, 1999 and filed with the Commission on February 1, 1999, appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information Act by failing to provide them with the requested records.

        4. Section 1-200(5), G.S., (formerly 1-18a(5), G.S.), provides:

"Public records or files" means any recorded data or information relating to the conduct of the public's business prepared, owned, used, received or retained by a public agency, whether such data or information be handwritten, typed, tape-recorded, printed, photostated, photographed or recorded by any other method.

        5. Section 1-210(a), G.S., (formerly 1-19(a), G.S.), further provides, in relevant part:

Except 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 or to receive a copy of such records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-15. Any agency rule or regulation, or part thereof, that conflicts with the provisions of this subsection or diminishes or curtails in any way the rights granted by this subsection shall be void.

        6. It is found that the respondents maintain the requested records and such records are public records within the meaning of 1-200(5) and 1-210(a), G.S., (formerly 1-18a(5) and 1-19(a), G.S., respectively).

        7. It is found that following notification of the complainants’ request by the respondent chief of police, Officer Scavatto’s collective bargaining representative objected to the disclosure of the requested records on December 31, 1998, claiming that disclosure of the records would be an invasion of Scavatto’s privacy.

        8. Section 1-210(b)(2), G.S., (formerly 1-19(b)(2), G.S.), permits the nondisclosure of "[p]ersonnel or medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute an invasion of personal privacy."

        9. Pursuant to Perkins v. Freedom of Information Commission, 228 Conn. 158 (1993), the appropriate test when examining a claim of exemption pursuant to 1-210(b)(2), G.S., (formerly 1-19(b)(2), G.S.), is as follows, first the information sought must constitute "personnel or medical files and similar files" and second, two elements must be met: the information sought does not pertain to legitimate matters of public concern, and such information is highly offensive to a reasonable person.

        10. It is found that the requested records constitute personnel and similar files within the meaning of 1-210(b)(2), G.S., (formerly 1-19(b)(2), G.S.).

        11. It is also found that the requested records pertain to legitimate matters of public concern.

        12. Further, the respondents failed to provide any evidence, and therefore failed to prove, that disclosure of any of the requested records would reveal information that is highly offensive to a reasonable person.

        13. It is therefore, concluded that the requested records are not exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-210(b)(2), G.S., (formerly 1-19(b)(2), G.S.).

        14. It is concluded that while the respondents were in good conscience attempting to balance the objection of the collective bargaining representative, under the facts of this case the respondents violated 1-210(a), G.S., (formerly 1-19(a), G.S.) when they failed to provide the complainants with the requested records.

 

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

        1. The respondent chief of police shall forthwith provide the complainants with a copy of all internal affairs investigations records concerning Officer Scavatto, such "records" to include all records that fall within the definition of "public records", as set forth in paragraphs 4 and 5, of the findings, above. The respondent police chief shall simultaneously provide to the complainants an affidavit attesting that all internal affairs investigation records have been provided to the complainants in keeping with paragraph 1 of this order.

        2. Henceforth, the respondents shall strictly comply with 1-210(a), G.S., (formerly 1-19(a), 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:

 

Judith F. Machuga and State of Connecticut, Division of Public Defender Services, Superior Court, G.A. 13
c/o Atty. Judith F. Machuga
Division of Public Defender Services
Superior Court, G.A. 13
111 Phoenix Avenue
Enfield, CT 06082
Chief, Police Department, Town of East Windsor; and Police Department, Town of East Windsor
c/o Chief Thomas Laufer
Police Department
Town of East Windsor
25 School Street
East Windsor, CT 06088
 

 

__________________________

Melanie R. Balfour

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC1999-040FD/mrb/08301999