FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
|In the Matter of a Complaint by||FINAL DECISION|
|against||Docket # FIC 2008-628|
Peter Murphy, Warden, State of Connecticut
Department of Correction, MacDougall-Walker
Correctional Institution; 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 2008-608; Robin Elliott v. Antonio Martins, Claims/Property Liaison Officer, State of Connecticut, Department of Correction; 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; 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 25, 2008, the complainant requested the following from the respondents:
[a] [t]he names of any property officer[s] whom [sic] worked in the property room, be they the regular property officer or substitutes, from the period of October 17, 2007 until February 15, 2008 includsive [sic] of 2-15-08 and 10-17-07.
[b] any form of written or documented information, i.e. memo’s [sic], e-mails, letters, phone transcriptions, grievances, fax’s [sic] or any photos, dealing with a pair of boots that were in my property upon my arrival at Mcdougal [sic] from Northern [Correctional Institution] on or about October 17, 2007.
[c] [e]xplain what happen[ed] to these boots exactly, and provide any documents that [were] attached with their disposal.
[d] wear [sic] they deemed contraband.
[e] describe what administrative directives govern’s [sic] disposal of contraband, what is the procedure for the disposal.
[f] does the prisoner have an opportunity to sellect [sic] the means of disposal.
[g] [w]as Robin Elliott given an opportunity to dispose of these boots, if not why.
[h] incorporating 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7 above, what happen[ed] to the second pair of boots that were also in the same property.
[i] any communications between any officials in or outside of the Connecticut Department of Corrections, if it pertains to these boots.
3. It is found that, by letter dated August 26, 2008, the respondents acknowledged the complainant’s request, described in paragraph 2, but no records were provided at that time, stating: “We are in the process of reviewing your request and you shall be hearing from Counselor Supervisor Baker in the near future.”
4. It is found that, by letter dated September 15, 2008, the complainant sent a follow-up to his August 25th request, described in paragraph 2, above, to the respondents.
5. By letter dated and filed on September 24, 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.
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 requests described in paragraph 2.a, 2.c, 2.d, 2.f, 2.g and 2.h, above, are requests for answers to questions, not requests 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 requests 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.
11. At the hearing, the respondents testified that they do not maintain or keep on file records responsive to the request, described in paragraph 2.i, above. Nevertheless, they informed the complainant that they are willing to perform another search for records that may be responsive to such request.
12. It is found that, by letter dated September 19, 2008, the respondents provided the complainant with records responsive to his request in paragraph 2.b and 2.e, above.
13. It is found that the respondent’s provision of the requested records, described in paragraphs 2.b, 2.e and 12, above, was prompt within the meaning of §§1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S.
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
Peter Murphy, Warden, State of Connecticut, Department of Correction, MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution; and State of Connecticut, Department of Correction
c/o Sandra A. Sharr, Esq.
Department of Correction
24 Wolcott Hill Road
Wethersfield, CT 06109
Petrea A. Jones
Acting Clerk of the Commission