OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by
Docket #FIC 2000-400
Lois Johnson, Manager
October 11, 2000
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on August 23, 2000, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, 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),
2. By letter dated July 24, 2000
and filed on July 26, 2000, the complainant appealed to the Commission,
alleging that the respondent Central violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”)
Act by failing to respond to his
request, and that the respondent Eastern set forth certain unacceptable
conditions prior to making records available to him.
The complainant requested that a civil penalty be imposed upon the
respondent Central, and that both the respondent Central and Eastern be
required to undergo training with respect to the FOI Act.
3. It is found that on or about
June 26, 2000, the complainant visited the offices of the respondent Central
and made a verbal request to inspect all applications, resumes, etc., received
in connection with the position announcements of Library Technical Assistant
(September, 1999) and Library Technical Assistant (February 2000), at which
time he was asked to submit a written request, indicating the reason for the
request, before such records would be made available to him.
4. It is found that on June 28,
2000 the complainant then sent an e-mail to the respondent Johnson requesting
access to inspect the records described in paragraph 3, above.
5. It is found that respondent
Johnson was out of office on an extended leave of absence.
Consequently, the respondent Central did not become aware of the e-mail
request until it received notice from the Commission that a complaint had been
filed in this matter by the complainant.
6. It is found that the
respondent Central thereafter made all of the requested records available to
the complainant on August 16 and 17, 2000.
7. The complainant has
acknowledged receipt of the records provided by the respondent Central, and
takes issue with the requirement that he first put his request in writing
prior to records being made available for his inspection.
8. Section 1-210(a), G.S.,
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 1-212. 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. [Emphasis added.]
9. It is found that the records
at issue are public records within the meaning of §1-210(a), G.S.
10. It is concluded that pursuant
to §1-210(a), G.S., the respondent Central should not have required that the
complainant put his request to inspect records in writing, or that he indicate
the purpose for which he wanted the records, prior to permitting him to
inspect such records. To do so,
amounted to an illegal precondition or a “rule or regulation” that
conflicts with, diminishes and curtails
the complainant’s right to inspect public records, within the meaning of
11. It is therefore, concluded
that the respondent Central, although unintentionally, violated §1-210(a),
G.S., by requesting a written request from the complainant as a precondition
to permitting him to inspect the requested records, and by failing to provide
him with access to such records “promptly”.
12. It is found that on or about
July 17, 2000, the complainant visited the offices of the respondent Eastern
and made a verbal request to inspect all applications, resumes, etc. received
in connection with the position announcements of “Library Technical
Assistant, Access Services: Night Supervisor I & II
(February 1999) and Library Technical Assistant, Governments Documents:
Governments Documents Cataloguing; Archives
(February 15, 2000)”.
13. It is found that on or about
July 17, 2000, the respondent Eastern informed the complainant that it needed
some time to review whether the requested records could be fully disclosed or
if confidential portions would have to be redacted. The complainant agreed to return on July 21, 2000, which he
did, and at that time, he met with the Vice President of Human Resources.
The complainant was then asked to provide the following before the
requested records would be released to him:
signed written request identifying the
information requested and the reason for the request; and
driver’s license or some other photo
14. It is found that the
complainant then by e-mail dated July 21, 2000 requested that the respondent
Eastern provide him with access to inspect the records described in paragraph
15. It is found that the
respondent Eastern thereafter made all of the requested records available to
the complainant on or about August 18, 2000.
16. The complainant has
acknowledged receipt of the records provided by the respondent Eastern and
takes issue with the requirement that he first put his request in writing, and
that he identify himself and the purpose for which he desires the records,
prior to making such records available for his inspection.
17. The respondent Eastern
contends that it had security concerns when it requested a written, signed
request from the complainant, and disclosure of his identity.
The respondent contends that it had a sense of discomfort because the
complainant represented himself as someone other than who he is.
18. There is no evidence to
suggest that the complainant was a security threat, and therefore, in the
absence of such evidence it is concluded that pursuant to §1-210(a), G.S.,
the respondent Eastern should not have required that the complainant put his
request to inspect records in writing, or that he identify himself and the
purpose for which he wanted the records, prior to permitting him to inspect
such records. To do so, amounted
to an illegal precondition or a “rule or regulation” that conflicts
with, diminishes and curtails the
complainant’s right to inspect public records within the meaning of
19. It is therefore, concluded
that the respondent Eastern, although unintentionally, violated §1-210(a),
G.S., by requesting a written request from the complainant, and by setting
forth the preconditions described in paragraph 13, above, prior to permitting
the complainant to inspect the requested records.
20. The Commission does not find
that a civil penalty is warranted in this case.
following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the
record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. Henceforth, the respondents shall comply with the prompt inspection of public records requirement of §1-210(a), G.S.
Commission notes that a requestor is entitled to prompt access, subject to an
agency’s right to review its records and redact information exempt pursuant
to federal law or state statute.
3. The Commission believes that
the respondents’ key employees who have to deal with the public in
addressing FOI requests may benefit from an FOI workshop.
Such a workshop would provide valuable training and assistance in
handling future FOI requests. The
Commission therefore recommends that the respondents contact the staff of the
Freedom of Information Commission to set up such a training session.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of October 11, 2000.
Dolores E. Tarnowski
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:
Lois Johnson, Manager of Personnel
Services, State of Connecticut, Central
Connecticut State University
c/o Carolyn A. Magnan, Esq.
Employment & Labor Attorney
Central CT State University
1615 Stanley Street
P.O. Box 4010
New Britain, CT 06050-4010
Director of Human Resources, State of Connecticut,
Eastern Connecticut State University
c/o David Trainor
Associate Vice President of Human Resources
Eastern CT State University
83 Windham Street
Willimantic, CT 06226
State of Connecticut, Connecticut State University System
39 Woodland Street
Hartford, CT 06105-2337
Dolores E. Tarnowski
Clerk of the Commission