FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Brian Niblack,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2006-174

Theresa Lantz, Commissioner,

State of Connecticut,

Department of Correction,

 
  Respondent March 14, 2007
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on November 17, 2006 and December 15, 2006.  On each date, the complainant and the respondent appeared and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. The complainant, who is incarcerated, appeared via teleconference, pursuant to the January 2004 memorandum of understanding between the Commission and the Department of Correction.  See Docket No. CV 03-0826293, Anthony Sinchak v. FOIC, Superior Court, J.D. of Hartford at Hartford, Corrected Order dated January 27, 2004 (Sheldon, J.). 

 

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)(A), G.S.

 

2.  By letter dated April 4, 2006, the complainant filed a complaint with the Commission entitled “Appeal of Department of Correction [D]ecision Regarding FOIA.”

 

3.      The complaint states:

 

Deputy Commissioner Murphy did not grant my request to change the policy as established in the November 4, 2005 memo from Commissioner Lanz.  Please accept this appeal.  I am being denied rights under C.G.S. 1-212(A)(d)(1),[1] in that I’m indigent and being forced to have a debt established against me because I can not afford to pay for FOIA materials.

 

            4.  It is found that the policy referenced in the complaint and identified in paragraph 3, above, was set forth in a Memorandum dated November 4, 2005 to District Administrators from the respondent (the “policy”).  It provides:

 

In the event that an inmate does not have sufficient funds in his/her trust account to pay for the copy fees associated with the production of documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act, an obligation to pay shall be established on the inmate’s trust fund.  Subsequent funds shall be fully credited against the obligation until it is satisfied.

 

5.  It is found that the complainant made a request for records under the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act on August 26, 2005 (the “requested records”).  It is found further that the complainant received the requested records on November 17, 2005.  It is also found that, although the complainant was not “indigent,” as that term is defined under the respondent’s administrative directives, the deputy commissioner of the Department of Correction chose not to establish a debt against the complainant’s account with regard to the requested records. 

 

6.  At the hearing in this matter, complainant did not dispute that he received the requested records, or, that with respect to the requested records, no debt was established against his account.  Rather, at the hearing, the complainant asserted that the policy was “arbitrary and capricious.” 

 

7.  It is found that the complaint does not allege a violation of the FOI Act.  Rather, it is found that the complainant, by his complaint to the Commission, is attempting to appeal the decision of the respondent who “did not grant [his] request to change the policy as established in the November 4, 2005 memo.”

 

8.  It is therefore concluded that the Commission is without jurisdiction over the complaint in this matter.

 

            The following orders by the Commission are 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 March 14, 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:

 

Brian Niblack, #102280

Cheshire Correctional Institution

900 Highland Avenue

Cheshire, CT 06410

 

Theresa Lantz, Commissioner,

State of Connecticut,

Department of Correction

c/o Sandra Sharr, Esq.

Department of Correction

24 Wolcott Hill Road

Wethersfield, CT 06109

 

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

 

FIC/2006-174FD/paj/3/19/2007

 

 

                                                                                   



[1] The Commission notes that the statute cited by the complainant does not exist.  The Commission assumes the complainant intended to reference 1-212(d)(1), G.S., which provides for a waiver of fees for indigent individuals.