FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Luis Diaz,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2008-331
Bryan Norwood, Chief, Police
Department, City of Bridgeport;
and Police Department, City of
Bridgeport,
 
  Respondents April 22, 2009
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on January 13, 2009, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts 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 et al, 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 respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-200(1), G. S.

 

2.  It is found that the complainant by letter dated April 3, 2008, requested that the respondents provide him with copies of all records which they maintain regarding case #06D-044.

 

3.  By letter of complaint dated May 6, 2008, postmarked May 7, 2008, and filed on May 9, 2008, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents denied his April 3, 2008 request for public records.  The complainant requested the imposition of a civil penalty against the respondent chief. 

 

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:

 

Except 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.  It is found that, to the extent the respondents maintain the records requested by the complainant, such records are public records within the meaning of 1-200(5) and 1-210(a), G.S., and must be disclosed, unless they are exempt from disclosure.

 

7.      Section 1-212(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that “any person applying in writing

 shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record . . .. ”

 

8.  It is found that the requested records were misplaced at the offices of the respondents.  It is found that, when the records were located, the respondents hand-delivered such records, except signed witness statements, to the complainant’s place of incarceration.  It is found that the respondents provided the complainant with such records free of charge on January 12, 2009.

 

            9.  The respondents contend that the witness statements described in paragraph 8, above, are exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-210(b)(3)(B), G. S., which provides that disclosure is not required of:

 

Records of law enforcement agencies not otherwise available to the public which records were compiled in connection with the detection or investigation of crime, if the disclosure of said records would not be in the public interest because it would result in the disclosure of … (B) signed statements of witnesses ….

 

10.  The respondents provided copies of the requested records to the Commission for in camera inspection.  Such copies shall be identified as IC-2008-331-1 through IC-2008-331-11. 

 

11.  Upon careful review of the in camera records described in paragraph 10, above, it is found that such records constitute signed statements of witnesses which were compiled in connection with the investigation of crime by a law enforcement agency, and which are not otherwise available, within the meaning of 1-210(b)(3)(B), G.S.  It is concluded that such records are exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-210(b)(3)(B), G.S., and that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act by withholding such records from the complainant. 

 

12.  However, it is also concluded that the respondents violated the promptness provisions of 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., in this matter. 

 

13.  The Commission declines to consider the imposition of a civil penalty in this matter.

 

The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:

 

1.  Henceforth, the respondents shall strictly comply with the promptness provisions of 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S.

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of April 22, 2009.

 

 

____________________________

S. Wilson

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:

 

Luis Diaz #153121  

Garner C I

50 Nunnawauk Road
Newtown, CT 06470

 

Bryan Norwood, Chief, Police Department, City of Bridgeport;

and Police Department, City of

Bridgeport

C/o Melanie J. Howlett, Esq.

Office of the City Attorney

999 Broad Street

Bridgeport, CT 06604

 

 

 

____________________________

S. Wilson

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC/2008-331FD/sw/4/29/2009