FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Fredy Morales,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2008-450

Chief, Police Department,

City of Stamford; and

Police Department,

City of Stamford,

 
  Respondents May 27, 2009
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on January 8, 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.).   The hearing was conducted with the aid of an interpreter from the Commission’s staff.

 

            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.  By letter of complaint filed July 7, 2008, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by denying his request for public records.

 

            3.  It is found that the complainant made a written request dated June 11, 2008 to the respondents for copies of the records pertaining to his arrest for homicide.

 

4.  It is found that the respondents provided all the records in its possession except for the medical examiner’s report concerning the victim and signed witness statements.

 

5.  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.

 

6.  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. 

 

7.  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.” 

 

8.  It is concluded that the requested records are public records within the meaning of 1-200(5) and 1-210(a), G.S.

 

9.  With respect to the signed witness statements, 1-210(b)(3)(B) 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  …  signed statements of witnesses ….

 

10.  It is concluded that the signed witness statements were permissibly withheld from the complainant, and that the respondents therefore did not violate 1-210(a), G.S.

 

11.  With respect to the medical examiner’s report, 19a-411(b), G.S. states, in relevant part:

 

The report of examinations conducted by the Chief Medical Examiner, Deputy Chief Medical Examiner, an associate medical examiner or an authorized assistant medical examiner, and of the autopsy and other scientific findings may be made available to the public only through the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and in accordance with this section, section 1-210 and the regulations of the  [Commission on Medicolegal Investigations] (emphasis added).

 

            12.  It is found that the copy of the medical examiner’s report retained by the respondents constitutes a record of the chief medical examiner within the meaning 19a-411, G.S.  Because the request for such records was made to the respondents and not to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, as required by 19a-411, G.S., it is found that the respondents may not provide such records to the complainant.  See Docket #FIC 2006-374, Burton Weinstein v. Commissioner, State of Connecticut, Department of Public Safety. 

 

13.  Consequently, it is concluded that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act when they withheld such records from the complainant.

 

 

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 May 27, 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:

 

Fredy Morales #311745

MacDougall-Walker CI

1153 East Street, South

Suffield, CT 06080

 

Chief, Police Department,

City of Stamford; and

Police Department,

City of Stamford

C/o Michael Toma, Esq.

City of Stamford Corporation Counsel

888 Washington Boulevard

P.O. Box 10152

Stamford, CT 06904

 

 

____________________________

S. Wilson

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC/2008-450FD/sw/5/28/2009