OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by
Attorney Russell Collins, LLC,
|Docket #FIC 2002-382|
City of Milford,
|July 23, 2003|
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on January 31, 2003, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. It is found that the original complaint in this matter was filed against the respondent, as well as the chiefs of the New Haven and West Haven police departments. However, prior to the hearing in this matter, by letter filed January 30, 2003, the complainant withdrew its claims against the chiefs of the New Haven and West Haven police departments. Accordingly, the case caption has been amended to reflect such withdrawals.
After consideration of the entire record, the
following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:
respondent is a public agency within the meaning of §1-200(1),
found that Mr. Russell Collins is the managing member of the complainant
corporation. For the purposes of
this report, Mr. Collins will be hereinafter referred to as “the manager”.
found that, in the late afternoon of July 29, 2002, the manager visited the
Milford Police Department [hereinafter “MFD”] and was given full access to
the notebook containing arrest information typically viewed by the press
[hereinafter “the notebook”]. It
is found that, at such time, the notebook contained the name and address of
the person arrested, the date, time and place of the arrest, and the offense
for which the person was arrested. It
is further found that, at such time, the address of the arrested individuals
consisted of street name and city or town, but not street number.
is also found that, during the visit described in paragraph 3, above, the
manager requested that an officer on duty provide him with the street number
of one arrested individual, and that such officer went to a nearby computer
terminal to retrieve such information. It
is also found that the manager thereupon inquired if it would be necessary to
go to the computer to retrieve the street number for any arrested individual,
and was informed that such process would be necessary.
It is also found that the manager then reviewed the notebook further,
and presented such officer with a list of approximately eighteen names for
which he wanted the street number and it is also found that the officer
informed him that he must request such information from the MPD’s records
department, since it was almost closing time and such officer would not have
time to comply with such request prior to closing.
is found that, following the conversation with the officer described in
paragraph 4, above, the manager visited the MPD’s records department and
presented a clerk with the list of approximately eighteen names and asked for
records indicating the street number of such individuals.
It is also found that such clerk informed the manager that it would
take a number of days to compile such information.
It is also found that, at such point, the manager withdrew his request
for such names and handed the clerk a letter described in paragraph 6, below.
is found that, by letter dated July 29, 2002, the complainant requested that
the respondent provide it with prompt opportunity to inspect and/or obtain
copies of the following records, for every person arrested by the MPD between
July 22 and July 29, 2002, who was at least eighteen years of age at the time
of arrest: the person’s name, address, date, time and place of arrest, and
offense, and at least one of the following: arrest report, incident report,
news release or other similar report of the arrest of such person [hereinafter
“the requested records”]. In
such letter, the complainant instructed the respondent to contact the
complainant prior to producing copies of the requested records, if the copying
fee would likely exceed fifteen dollars.
is found that, on July 30, 2002, an MPD records department clerk telephoned
the manager and informed him that she had spent five hours of research to
fulfill a part of his request and that it would likely take several hours of
research over several days to comply with the request described in paragraph
6, above, and that he would be charged an hourly fee for such research.
It is found that the manager then instructed such clerk to cease
complying with the request described in paragraph 6, above, as he believed
such request had already been denied, contending that the respondent should
have arrest records maintained in a manner that would allow prompt access
is found that, by letter dated July 31, 2002, to the Milford Town Attorney,
the manager reiterated that, by the letter described in paragraph 6, above, he
had previously instructed the respondent not to proceed with his request
before speaking with him, if the anticipated cost would exceed fifteen
dollars, which the respondent had ignored. The manager also informed the town attorney that, on July 30,
2002, he told the clerk not to proceed with his request, as he believed it had
already been denied. It is
further found that, by such letter, the manager again instructed the
respondent not to expend any time, effort and/or money to comply with the
request described in paragraph 6, above, since it was the manager’s belief
that such request had already been denied, alleging that he had been denied
prompt access to public records.
is found that, sometime between July 31, 2002 and August 12, 2002, the manager
and the town attorney had two telephone conversations and that during one such
conversation, the town attorney informed the manager that the records division
clerk was in error by assessing a research fee, as described in paragraph 7,
above, and assured the manager that no such fee would be assessed.
It is also found that the complainant did not renew his request or
again seek access to the requested records, upon learning that he would not be
assessed a research fee.
It is found that, by letter dated August 12, 2002, the Milford Town
Attorney informed the complainant that the respondent was committed to
compliance with both the letter and spirit of the Freedom of Information
[hereinafter “FOI”] Act, and that necessarily, compliance with requests
depends upon the volume of records requested.
By letter dated August 19, 2002, and filed with the Commission on
August 22, 2002, the complainant appealed, alleging that the respondent
violated the FOI Act by failing to provide the requested records promptly upon
Section 1-210(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 (1) inspect such records
promptly during regular office or business hours, (2) copy such records in
accordance with subsection (g) of section 1-212, or (3) receive a copy of such
records in accordance with section 1-212.
Section 1-212(a), G.S., in relevant part, provides that: “[a]ny
person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or
certified copy of any public record….”
It is found that the requested records are public records within the
meaning of §§1-210(a)
and 1-212(a), G.S.
15. Section 1-215, G.S. provides in relevant part:
(a) [n]otwithstanding any provision of the general statutes to the contrary, and except as otherwise provided in this section, any record of the arrest of any person, other than a juvenile, except a record erased pursuant to chapter 961a, shall be a public record from the time of such arrest and shall be disclosed in accordance with the provisions of section 1-212 and subsection (a) of section 1-210, except that disclosure of data or information other than that set forth in subdivision (1) of subsection
(b) of this section shall be subject to the provisions of subdivision (3) of subsection (b) of section 1-210….
(b) For the purposes of this section, “record of the arrest” means (1) the name and address of the person arrested, the date, time and place of the arrest and the offense for which the person was arrested, and (2) at least one of the following, designated by the law enforcement agency: The arrest report, incident report, news release or other similar report of the arrest of a person.
It is found that the request described in paragraph 6, above,
contemplates the right to inspect or copy all “records of arrest,” within
the meaning of §1-215(b), G.S., for a one week period in July 2002.
It is found that the notebook described in paragraph 3, above, is
prepared for the convenience of the press and public, and contains information
relative only to felony, and not misdemeanor, arrests.
It is found that, for the time period between July 22 and July 29,
2002, the respondent maintains approximately seventy-nine “records of arrest”,
within the meaning of §1-215(b), G.S., in the MPD records division, and that
such records contain the names of individuals less than eighteen years of age
at the time of arrest. It is also
found that the respondent’s records division clerk began work on the request
described in paragraph 6, above, the day after receiving it late on July 29,
2002. It is further found that
such work involved redaction of information concerning individuals under the
age of eighteen, as instructed by the complainant.
It is also found that such clerk had made significant progress on such
request prior to the telephone conversation described in paragraph 7, above.
Based upon the facts and circumstances of this case, it is found that
the respondent acted promptly to comply with the request described in
paragraph 6, above, before such request was terminated, as described in
paragraphs 7 and 8, above.
It is concluded therefore, that the respondent did not violate the FOI
Act, as alleged in the complaint.
order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record
concerning the above-captioned complaint.
1. The complaint is hereby dismissed.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of
July 23, 2003.
Ann B. Gimmartino
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:
Attorney Russell Collins, LLC
c/o Russell Collins, Esq.
PO Box 185843
Hamden, CT 06518
Chief, Police Department,
City of Milford
c/o Marilyn J. Lipton, Esq.
City Attorney, City of Milford
City Hall, 100 River Street
Milford, CT 06460
Ann B. Gimmartino
Acting Clerk of the Commission