FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by

FINAL DECISION

K. Joy Banach,

 

Complainant

 

 

against

Docket # FIC 2003-126

Executive Director, State of

Connecticut, Judicial Review

Council,

 

 

Respondent

December 10, 2003

 

 

 

 

            On October 2, 2003, the respondent moved to dismiss this matter without a hearing pursuant to §1-206(b)(4), G.S.  The complainant did not file an objection to such motion.

           

1.  Section 1-206(b)(4), G.S., provides that:

 

“[n]otwithstanding any provision of this subsection to the contrary, in the case of an appeal to the commission of a denial by a public agency, the commission may, upon motion of such agency, confirm the action of the agency and dismiss the appeal without a hearing if it finds, after examining the notice of appeal and construing all allegations most favorably to the appellant, that (A) the agency has not violated the Freedom of Information Act, or (B) the agency has committed a technical violation of the Freedom of Information Act that constitutes a harmless error that does not infringe the appellant’s rights under said act.

 

2.  The notice of appeal in this matter informs the Commission that the complainant filed an ethics complaint with the Judicial Review Council [hereinafter “council”] against Judge DiPentima [hereinafter “the judge”], which was dismissed, and that, pursuant to §51-51l, G.S., she has been denied copies of materials related to that complaint and to any other complaints which may have been filed with the council against the judge.  Specifically, the complainant requested copies of the judge’s response to the complainant’s complaint filed with the council, all telephone logs indicating communications made by the judge to the council, any minutes or comments of the council related to the complainant’s complaint against the judge, and any “statistics” maintained by the council regarding any other complaints which may have been filed against the judge, including number of complaints filed and names of complainants.  The respondent informed the complainant that §51-51l, G.S., requires that any investigation made to determine whether or not probable cause exists that misconduct has occurred must be kept confidential.  The complainant also alleged that she has been denied due process rights by virtue of the procedures of the respondent and the rules of appellate procedure.  

 

3.  It is concluded that the Commission has no jurisdiction over allegations of denial of due process rights by the respondent or the appellate courts.  Accordingly, such allegations shall not be addressed herein.

 

4.   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. 

 

            (Emphasis added).

 

5.  Section 1-212(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that: “[a]ny person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record….” 

           

            6.  Section 51-51l, G.S., provides in relevant part that:

 

“(a)…the Judicial Review Council shall investigate every written complaint brought before it alleging conduct under section 51-51i, and may initiate an investigation of any judge…if (1) the council has reason to believe conduct under section 51-51i has occurred or (2) previous complaints indicate a pattern of behavior which would lead to a reasonable belief that conduct under section 51-51i has occurred….Any investigation to determine whether or not there is probable cause that conduct under section 51-51i has occurred shall be confidential and any individual called by the council for the purpose of providing information shall not disclose his knowledge of such investigation to a third party prior to the decision of the council on whether probable cause exists, unless the respondent requests that such investigation and disclosure be open, provided information known or obtained independently of any such investigation shall not be confidential….

(c) If a preliminary investigation indicates that probable cause exists that the judge…is guilty of conduct under section 51-51i, the council shall hold a hearing concerning the conduct or complaint.  All hearings held pursuant to this subsection shall be open….The council shall make a record of all proceedings pursuant to this subsection. The council shall not later than thirty days after the close of such hearing publish its findings together with a memorandum of its reasons therefor.”

(Emphasis added).

 

            7.  After examining the complaint and pleadings in this matter, it is found that the council dismissed the complainant’s complaint against the judge for lack of probable cause, pursuant to §51-51l, G.S.  

 

After consideration of the notice of appeal and construing all allegations most favorably to the complainant, it is concluded that §51-51l, G.S., exempts from disclosure the records requested by the complainant, by operation of §1-210(a), G.S.  Consequently, the following order by the Commission is hereby recommended:

 

            1.  The action of the respondent in this matter is confirmed and the complaint is hereby dismissed without a hearing pursuant to §1-206(b)(4), G.S. 

 

 

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of December 10, 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:

 

K. Joy Banach

29 Mountain View Avenue

Avon, CT  06001

 

Executive Director, State of Connecticut,

Judicial Review Council

c/o Susan Quinn Cobb, Esq.

Assistant Attorney General

55 Elm Street, PO Box 120

Hartford, CT  06141-0120

 

 

___________________________________

Ann B. Gimmartino

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

FIC/2003-126/FD/abg/12/11/2003