FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Vicki Pfeifer,
  Complainant  
  against Docket #FIC 2003-299

MacDougal-Walker Correctional

Institution, State of Connecticut,

Department of Correction; and

State of Connecticut, Department

of Correction,

 
  Respondents  August 11, 2004
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 7, 2004, at which time the complainant 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.

 

2.   It is found that the complainant is an employee of the respondents.

 

3.   It is found that, by letter dated April 22, 2003, the complainant requested that the respondents provide her with:

 

a.       a copy of the investigation into a complaint filed by the complainant against another employee of the respondents [hereinafter “case number 02-0802”]; as well as

 

b.       a copy of an investigation which occurred at the respondent institution between April and September of 2002 which involved the complainant [hereinafter “threat letter investigation”].  

 

4.   It is found that, by letter dated April 23, 2003, the respondents acknowledged receipt of the request described in paragraph 3, above.  It is further found that, by letter dated May 12, 2003, the respondents informed the complainant that copies of the requested records were available and would cost a fee of $20.75.  It is further found that on or about June 3, 2003, the complainant paid for and received copies of some of the requested records from the respondents. 

 

5.   It is found that, upon review of the copies, which she received as described in paragraph 4, above, the complainant believed that some records were missing and, by letter dated June 4, 2004, the complainant again asked for a complete copy of case number 02-0802, and a complete copy of the threat letter investigation.  It is found that, by such letter, the complainant also asked a number of questions about such investigations.    

 

6.   By letter dated June 5, 2003, the respondents acknowledged receipt of the request described in paragraph 5, above.   It is found that the complainant met with representatives of the respondents on July 1, 2003, to discuss the records at issue.  

 

7.  It is found that, by letter dated July 14, 2003, the respondents again acknowledged receipt of the request described in paragraph 5, above.  It is also found that, on August 18, 2003, the respondents offered the complainant a second copy of the records described in paragraphs 4 and 5, above. 

 

8.  By letter dated and filed with the Commission on August 21, 2003, the complainant alleged that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information Act by failing to provide her with a complete copy of the records described in paragraph 3, above.

 

9.  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… Each such agency shall keep and maintain all public records in its custody at its regular office or place of business in an accessible place…. "  

 

10.  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.” 

 

11.  At the hearing in this matter, the complainant contended that she was not provided with a copy of the threat letter investigation described in paragraph 3.b, above, and that such record should be in existence, in compliance with the procedures of the respondent department.   The complainant also contended that certain records were not included in the copy of case number 02-0802, as described in paragraph 3.a, above.  Specifically, the complainant contended that only partial facility directives were part of such copy, that an incident report written by Lieutenant Cleveland was not included in such copy, and that at least the final page of the conclusion section of case number 02-0802 [hereinafter “the conclusion page”] was missing.

 

12.  It is found that the respondents do not keep on file or maintain a threat letter investigation, and that no such investigation was conducted, despite the fact that the respondents’ rules or procedures might require such investigation.  Accordingly, it is concluded that the respondents did not violate 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., by failing to produce a copy of such document for the complainant.

 

13.  It is found that the partial facility directives, which were included in the copy of case number 02-0802, were intentionally included in such manner, in that it was not necessary to include completed directives, but rather only relevant portions thereof.    Accordingly, it is concluded that the respondents did not violate 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., by failing to provide the remaining portions of such directives to the complainant.  At the hearing in this matter, the respondents nevertheless offered to provide completed directives to the complainant, and noted that such directives are readily available for general review by employees of the respondent department. 

 

14.  With respect to the remainder of case number 02-0802, it is found that, during the moving and reorganization of files which was necessitated by a change in administration, case number 02-0802 became unbound.  Specifically, with respect to Lieutenant Cleveland’s incident report, it is found that the lieutenant completed such report and it was initially part of the bound version of case number 02-0802.   However, it is further found that such incident report is now missing from case number 02-0802, and that Lieutenant Cleveland did not retain either a paper or electronic version of such record.  With respect to the conclusion page, after careful review of the records submitted in evidence, it is found that such page, which would logically contain a conclusion, is missing.   It is unclear from the testimony in this matter if a thorough search has been conducted for any electronic record of such page.  At the hearing in this matter, the respondents indicated that they continue to search for the missing portions of case number 02-0802 in its paper form, and that such portions might be found during the general moving and reorganization of files described herein.

 

15.  Based upon the findings described in paragraph 14, above, it is concluded that the respondents violated 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., by failing to keep on file and maintain a complete copy of case number 02-0802 in an accessible place, and by failing to provide such complete copy 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 respondents shall conduct a search for an electronic copy of the conclusion page described in paragraphs 11 and 14 of the findings, above.   Should such search yield an electronic version of such page, the respondents shall forthwith provide the complainant with a copy thereof, at no cost.  Should that search yield no electronic version, the respondents shall so inform the complainant by affidavit.  Forthwith, the respondents shall continue to search for a paper copy of the incident report described in paragraphs 11 and 14 of the findings, above.   Should such search yield a paper copy of such report, the respondents shall forthwith provide the complainant with a copy thereof, at no cost.  Should that search yield no paper copy, the respondents shall so inform the complainant by affidavit. 

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of August 11, 2004.

 

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

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:

 

Vicki Pfeifer

c/o Kenneth I. Friedman, Esq.

2389 Main Street

Glastonbury, CT 06033

 

MacDougal-Walker Correctional

Institution, State of Connecticut,

Department of Correction; and

State of Connecticut, Department

of Correction

c/o Neil Parille, Esq.

Assistant Attorney General

110 Sherman Street

Hartford, CT  06105

 

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

FIC/2003-299/FD/paj/08/16/2004