FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Bradshaw Smith,  
  Complainants  
  against   Docket #FIC 2006-488

Commissioner, State of Connecticut,

Department of Labor,

 
  Respondents  June 13, 2007
       

 

The above-captioned matter was scheduled to be heard as a contested case on February 23, 2007.  On February 16, 2007, the respondent moved to dismiss the matter without a hearing pursuant to 1-206(b)(4), G.S.  The complainant filed an objection to such motion on March 12, 2007.  On April 20, 2007, the hearing officer in the above-captioned matter issued a written ruling to both parties partially granting the motion to dismiss with respect to two of three requests described in the complainant’s August 18, 2006 request letter to the respondent.  Subsequently, the above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 15, 2007, at which time the complainant and the respondent 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 respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-200(1), G.S.

 

            2.  By letter of complaint filed September 20, 2006, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to reply to his letter of August 18, 2006, which was attached to such complaint.  By the August 18, 2006, letter, the complainant requests the following from the respondent:

“a) the legal authority for requesting the noted information[1]
(by copy thereof);

  b) what use will be made of the information; and

  c) what effect not providing the information will have.”

3.  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. 

 

4.  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….” 

           

            5.  It is found that, the complainant’s requests, as described in paragraph 2.b and 2.c, above, are not requests for access to or copies of records, but rather constitute two questions.  It is concluded that the FOI Act does not require public agencies to answer questions.  Accordingly, the complaint with respect to such requests was dismissed by the hearing officer prior to hearing.

6.  With respect to the complainant’s request, as described in paragraph 2.a, above, as it relates to a copy of the legal authority permitting the respondent to request information of users of the respondent’s “one stop” centers, it is found the respondent does not keep on file or maintain a readily identifiable responsive record.

7.  The respondent contends that all of the complainant’s requests required legal research and, although the respondent conducted some research as a courtesy to the complainant, it had no obligation under the FOI Act to do so.

 

8.  The Commission takes administrative notice of the fact that searching for information that may be contained in various statutes or other legal authorities is a starting point for contemporary electronic legal research.  See Ponvert v. Office of the Attorney General, Docket #FIC2005-475 (September 26, 2006).  Such legal research requires not merely a mechanical matching of criteria, but the exercise of professional analysis and discretion to determine whether the various legal documents preliminarily located satisfy the researcher’s goals.  Ponvert, above; see also Wildin v. Freedom of Information Commission, 56 Conn. App. 683 (2000) (distinguishing requests for records which are responsive on their face, from requests for documents in which subjective determination and/or legal analysis is required to determine responsiveness).  

 

9.  It is found that the complainant’s request as described in paragraph 2.a, above, required the respondent to conduct legal research, which the respondent performed for him as a courtesy.  It is concluded that the respondent did not violate the FOI Act, as alleged in the complaint.

 

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.

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of June 13, 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:

 

Bradshaw Smith

23 Ludlow Road

Windsor, CT 06095

 

Commissioner, State of Connecticut,

Department of Labor

c/o Laurie Adler, Esq.

Assistant Attorney General

Office of the Attorney General

55 Elm Street

PO Box 120

Hartford, CT 06141-0120

 

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

 

FIC/2006-488FD/paj/6/25/2007

 

                                                           

 

                                                                                               

 



[1] The “information” referenced was that requested by the respondent of users of the respondent’s “one-stop” centers.