FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

Robin Elliott,

 
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2008-626

Theresa Lantz, Commissioner,

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 May 21, 2009, at which time the complainant and the respondents 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.).  This matter was consolidated for hearing with Docket #FIC 2008-706, Robin Elliott v. Jeffrey McGill, Warden, State of Connecticut, Department of Correction, Northern Correctional Institution; and State of Connecticut, Department of Correction; Docket #FIC 2008-733, Robin Elliott v. Warden, State of Connecticut, Department of Correction, Northern Correctional Institution; Shayne Wilson, Disciplinary Report Coordinator, State of Connecticut, Department of Correction, Northern Correctional Institution; and State of Connecticut, Department of Correction; and Docket #FIC 2008-806, Robin Elliott v. Warden, State of Connecticut, Department of Correction, Northern Correctional Institution; and State of Connecticut, Department of Correction.

 

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 26, 2008, the complainant made a request to the respondents for “copies of any and all documents generated in reference to [an appeal of an unanswered level two appeal concerning tampering with my mail], any memos, letters, transcribed telephone communications, e-mails, or any data on this subject, to anyone inside or outside of government.”

                                         

3.  By letter of complaint dated September 22, 2008, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act by failing to comply with the request described in paragraph 2, above.

 

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 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.

 

6.  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.”

 

7.  It is found that, to the extent that the respondents maintain the records described in paragraph 2, above, such records 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. 

 

            8.  It is found that, by letter dated September 8, 2008, the respondents acknowledged the request, described in paragraph 2, above.  It is further found that, by letter dated January 8, 2009, the respondents provided all records responsive to the request described in paragraph 2, above. 

 

            9.  At the hearing in this matter, the complainant claimed he did not receive the records, described in paragraph 8, above, promptly.

 

10.  The Commission has held that the meaning of the word “promptly” is a particularly fact-based question.  In Advisory Opinion #51, In the Matter of a Request for Declaratory Ruling, Third Taxing District of the City of Norwalk, Applicant (Notice of Final Decision dated January 11, 1982), the Commission advised that the word “promptly,” as used in 1-210(a), G.S., means quickly and without undue delay, taking into consideration all of the factors presented by a particular request. 

 

11.  The advisory opinion goes on to describe some of the factors that should be considered in weighing a request for records against other priorities:  the volume of records requested; the time and personnel required to comply with a request; the time by which the person requesting records needs them; the time constraints under which the agency must complete its other work; the importance of the records to the requester, if ascertainable; and the importance to the public of completing the other agency business without the loss of the personnel time involved in complying with the request.

 

            12.  It is found that the respondents failed to offer any evidence pertaining to any of the factors set forth in paragraph 11, above, and further, the respondents’ witness testified that she could not explain the four-month delay.

 

            13.  Based upon the foregoing, it is concluded that the respondents violated the promptness provisions of the FOI Act.

 

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 special meeting of July 1, 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:

 

Robin Elliott, #24941

Northern Correctional Institution

287 Bilton Road

P.O. Box 665

Somers, CT 06071

 

Theresa Lantz, Commissioner,

State of Connecticut, Department of Correction;

and State of Connecticut,

Department of Correction

C/o Sandra A. Sharr, Esq.

Department of Correction

24 Wolcott Hill Road

Wethersfield, CT 06109

 

 

____________________________

S. Wilson

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC/2008-626FD/sw/7/7/2009