FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
|In the Matter of a Complaint by
|Kimberly Lazzari and Anthony Lazzari,
|Docket # FIC 2006-434
State of Connecticut,
Judicial Review Council,
|January 24, 2007
This matter was scheduled to be heard as a contested case on December 4, 2006. On November 16, 2006, the respondent moved to dismiss the matter without a hearing pursuant to §1-206(b)(4), G.S. The complainants filed an objection to the motion on November 29, 2006.
1. The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of §1-200(1), G.S.
2. By letter of complaint filed August 28, 2006, the complainants appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent denied their requests for certain records. The complaint alleges that the complainants filed ethics complaints with the respondent against six superior court judges, and that all these complaints were dismissed by the respondent. The complaint alleges that the complainants then requested “full disclosure of records, documents, information, responses from judges, and all papers associated with [the complaints].”
3. 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.
4. Section 1-200(5), G.S., provides:
“Public records or files” means any recorded data or information relating to the conduct of the public's business prepared, owned, used, received or retained by a public agency, or to which a public agency is entitled to receive a copy by law or contract under section 1-218, whether such data or information be handwritten, typed, tape-recorded, printed, photostated, photographed or recorded by any other method.
5. 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.
6. 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….”
7. 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.]
8. In their written opposition to the respondent’s motion to dismiss, the complainants allege that §51-51l, G.S., is unconstitutional; that they have been denied constitutional due process and equal protection by the respondent and by the judges against whom they filed ethics complaints; that their ethics complaints against the judges were “unlawfully dismissed;” and that various state agencies have acted in conspiracy against them in order to conceal sexual abuse crimes, the issue that underlies the complaint to the Commission in this matter.
9. It is concluded, however, that the Commission lacks jurisdiction to decide the issue of the constitutionality of §51-51l, G.S., or any of the other claims raised by the complainants in their opposition to the respondent’s motion to dismiss.
10. After examining the complaint and pleadings in this matter and construing all allegations most favorably to the complainants, it is found that the complainants requested public records concerning their ethics complaint against certain judges, that the requested records were part of the investigation to determine whether there was probable cause that judicial misconduct had occurred, and that the respondent council dismissed the ethics complaint for lack of probable cause.
11. It is therefore concluded that the requested records are exempt from disclosure pursuant to §51-51l, G.S. See docket #FIC 2003-126, K. Joy Banach v. Executive Director, State of Connecticut, Judicial Review Council (request for 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, dismissed without a hearing pursuant to §1-206(b)(4), G.S., because requested records were exempt from disclosure pursuant to §51-51l, G.S.).
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. The complaint is dismissed without a hearing pursuant to §1-206(b)(4)(A), G.S.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of January 24, 2007.
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:
Kimberly Lazzari and Anthony Lazzari
PO Box 451
Naugatuck, CT 06770
State of Connecticut,
Judicial Review Council
c/o Perry Zinn Rowthorn, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
PO Box 120
55 Elm Street
Hartford, CT 06141-0120
Petrea A. Jones
Acting Clerk of the Commission