FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by

FINAL DECISION

Edward A. Peruta

 

Complainants

 

 

against

Docket #FIC 2002-506

State of Connecticut, Judicial Branch,

Office of Victims Services

 

 

Respondents

August 27, 2003

 

 

 

 

            The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 28, 2003, at which time the complainant and the respondent 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 respondent is a public agency within the meaning of §1-200(1), G.S.

 

            2.  It is found that approximately two weeks prior to October 22, 2002, the complainant visited the respondent’s office, located in Plainville, Connecticut, and requested access to review written and computerized information regarding voluntary donations made to the respondent in connection with the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund (“fund”).

 

            3.  It is found that the respondent provided the complainant with most of the requested information, however, the respondent denied the request with respect to the names of the contributors to the fund (hereinafter “requested records” or “names of the contributors”) by e-mail dated October 21, 2002.

 

            4.  Thereafter, by complaint filed with the Commission on October 22, 2002, the complainant appealed, alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information Act by denying him access to inspect the requested records.

            5.  Section 1-200(5), G.S., in relevant part, provides that public records or files mean  “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.”


            6.  Section 1-210(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 (1) inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours…  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.]

 

            7.  It is found that the respondent maintains the names of the contributors at issue, and such records are “public records” within the meaning of §§1-200(5) and 1-210(a), G.S.

 

8.  Section 54-56h, G.S., provides:

(a) The court may, in the disposition of any criminal or motor vehicle case, including a dismissal or the imposition of a sentence, consider the fact that the defendant has made a monetary contribution to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund established under section 54-215 or a contribution of community service work hours to a private nonprofit charity or other nonprofit organization.

(b) In entering a nolle prosequi, the state's attorney, assistant state's attorney or deputy assistant state's attorney in charge of the case may consider the fact that the defendant has made a monetary contribution to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund established under section 54-215 or a contribution of community service work hours to a private nonprofit charity or other nonprofit organization.

            9.  It is found that the respondent’s accountant tracks all deposits and expenditures related to the fund.  It is also found that in connection with this duty, the accountant maintains the names of the contributors to the fund.  It is further found that such contributors made monetary contributions to the fund in the settlement or disposition of their cases pursuant to §54-56h, G.S.

 

            10.  It is found that in the past the respondent has disclosed the names of the contributors to the subjects of such records.  It is found that the respondent has at times disclosed the names of contributors over the telephone to individuals claiming to be the subjects of such records without requiring that such individuals appear in person and produce identification.  It is also found that it is the policy of the respondent to not disclose such names to third parties.  It is found that the complainant is a third party who seeks the names at issue.

 

            11.  The respondent contends that because the names of the contributors at issue may pertain to certain protected case files, such as case files which have been erased, sealed or concern juveniles, and because the respondent lacks the necessary information to make that determination, the respondent is unable to segregate the names of individuals who may be protected and therefore, the respondent has adopted a policy to not disclose any contributors’ names to third parties.

 

            12.  It is found that the respondent has failed to provide evidence and therefore failed to prove that the names of the contributors at issue are in fact protected and specifically exempt from disclosure by federal law or state statute.

 

            13.  It is therefore concluded that in the absence of federal law or state statute that bars disclosure of the names of the contributors at issue, such records are disclosable pursuant to §1-210(a), G.S.

 

            14.  Consequently, it is concluded that the respondent violated §1-210(a), G.S., when it failed to disclose the names of the contributors to the complainant. 

 

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

 

            1.  Forthwith, the respondent shall permit the complainant to inspect the names of the contributors. 

 

 

 

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of August 27, 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:

 

Edward A. Peruta

American News and Information Services, Inc.

38 Parish Road

Rocky Hill, CT  06067

 

State of Connecticut, Judicial Branch,

Office of Victim Services

c/o Martin R. Libbin, Esq.

State of Connecticut, Judicial Branch

Court Operations Division

100 Washington Street, PO Box 150474

Hartford, CT  06115-0474

 

 

___________________________________

Ann B. Gimmartino

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC/2002-506FD/abg/08/29/2003