FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Robin Elliott,      
  Complainant  
  against  

Docket # FIC 2008-608

Antonio Martins, Claims/Property Liaison
Officer, State of Connecticut, Department of
Correction; and State of Connecticut,
Department of Correction,
 
  Respondents July 1, 2009
       

 

            The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on March 6, 2009, at which time the complainant and respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.  For purposes of hearing, the above captioned matter was consolidated with Docket # FIC 2008-601; Robin Elliott v. Jeffrey McGill, Warden, State of Connecticut, Department of Correction, Northern Correctional Institution; and State of Connecticut, Department of Correction; Docket # FIC 2008-625; Robin Elliott v. Peter Murphy, Warden, State of Connecticut, Department of Correction, MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution; and State of Connecticut, Department of Correction; Docket # FIC 2008-628; Robin Elliott v. Peter Murphy, Warden, State of Connecticut, Department of Correction, MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution; and State of Connecticut, Department of Correction; and Docket # FIC 2008-696; Robin Elliott v. Antonio Martins, Claims/Property Liaison Officer, State of Connecticut, Department of Correction; and State of Connecticut; Department of Correction.  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, by letter dated August 21, 2008, the complainant made a request to the respondents for the following:

[a] copies of all claims of property lost, stolen or damage[d] by State of Connecticut officials filed by me since 2006.

 

[b] any records of investigation of these claims, any memo’s [sic], letters, written or otherwise remotely connected with these claims.

 

[c] clear identification of any claim number to each claim recorded.  Dates of claim and reason for claim.

 

[d] copies of any form of communication, transcribed or otherwise, e-mail, letter, pictures, between the State of Connecticut Department of Correction[] and the State Department of Corrections of Maryland in refference [sic] to property lost, stolen or damage[d] by either state, belonging to Robin Elliott, during the years of 2006 to 2008.

 

[e] all guildlines [sic], general statues [sic], rules time limits, procedures, laws governing the establishment of the [Lost Property Board], year and date of establishment, and means of establishment, directives or any policy which govern the [Lost Property Board].

 

[f] all authority and reference[s] which govern the [Lost Property Board], definition and purpose of the [Lost Property Board], and names of all persons whom sit on this Board, as well as the means by which decisions are made.

 

[g] a statistical list of all lost property, damage[d] or stolen claims filed since the establishment of the [Lost Property Board], and a showing of those claims won or lost.

 

3.      It is found that, by letter dated, September 2, 2008, the respondents acknowledged the complainant’s request, described in paragraph 2, above, but did not provide copies of such records on that date, stating:  “This office is not the correct place for such requests.  The Department has an office that processes the type of request you made in this letter.  Please consult the staff at your facility for information on how and where to request the information you are seeking.”

 

4.      By letter dated September 12, 2008, and filed on September 18, 2008, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to provide him with copies of the records, described in paragraph 2, above.  The complainant also requested the imposition of civil penalties against the respondents. 

 

5.      At the hearing in this matter, the complainant stated that the records described in paragraph 2.a, 2.b and 2.c, above, are no longer at issue in this matter.  Accordingly, only the records, described in paragraph 2.d, 2.e, 2.f and 2.g, above, will be addressed herein.  

 

6.      Section 1-200(5), G.S., defines “public records or files” as:

 

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.

 

7.      Section 1-210(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that: 

 

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 . . . (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212.

 

8.      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.”

 

9.      It is found that the records requested by the complainant, to the extent that they exist, are public records and must be disclosed in accordance with 1-200(5), 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., unless they are exempt from disclosure.

 

10.  It is found that the respondents do not maintain or keep on file records responsive to the request, described in paragraph 2.d, above, nor are they aware that any such records exist.

 

11.  It is found that, by letter dated September 22, 2008, the respondents provided the complainant with records responsive to his request in paragraph 2.e and 2.f, above.

 

12.  It is found that the respondents’ provision of the requested records, described in paragraph 2.e and 2.f, above, was prompt within the meaning of 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S.

 

13.  It is found that the request in paragraph 2.g, above, is a request for answers to questions or would require the creation of a record, and is not a request for records. It is concluded as a matter of law that because the FOI Act does not require a public agency to either provide answers to questions or to create records in response to a request, those portions of the complainant's request that seek answers to questions or that would require the respondents to create records for the complainant do not allege a violation of the Act.

 

14.  It is concluded, therefore, that the respondents did not violate 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), 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 hereby dismissed.

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of July 1, 2009.

 

 

________________________________

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:

 

 

Robin Elliott, #24941

Northern Correctional Institution

287 Bilton Road

PO Box 665

Somers, CT 06071

 

Antonio Martins, Claims/Property Liaison Officer, State of Connecticut, Department of Correction; and State of Connecticut, Department of Correction

c/o Sandra A. Sharr, Esq.

Legal Director

Department of Correction

24 Wolcott Hill Road

Wethersfield, CT 06109

 

 

 

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC/2008-608FD/paj/7/2/2009