FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Paul Fine, Jr.,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2008-582

Lost Property Board, State of Connecticut,

Department of Correction; and

State of Connecticut, Department of Correction,

 
  Respondents July 22, 2009
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on February 18, 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.).

 

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 July 28, 2008, the complainant made a request to the respondents for a copy of the following records:

 

(a)  “Copies of documentations [sic] written from the requester dated and mailed to your jurisdiction on and after 6-14-7 for consideration of claim file #PC-200”;

 

(b)  “Copies of all letters of inquiry, request, and complaint (and grievance) filed with your jurisdiction prior to 6-14-7 in which you recived [sic] in order to initially file and assign property claim file #PC-200”;

 

(c)  “Copy of Lost Property Board mission statement”;

 

(d)  “Copies of Lost Property Board’s rules, guidelines, directives, and ethical operation procedures in determining a desision [sic] on any claim.”

 

 (the “requested records”).

 

3.  It is found that, by letter dated August 12, 2008, Lt. Martins, Claims Officer, Claims/Property Liaison Office, on behalf of the respondents, acknowledged receipt of the request, described in paragraph 2, above, and further stated:  “[t]his office does not process these types of requests.  Please follow up with the staff at your facility, most likely your Counselor or Unit Manager, to inquire about the steps you need to take for that purpose, as there is an office that processes requests for documentation under this Act.”

 

4.  By letter dated August 13, 2008, and received by the Commission on September 8, 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.

 

            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 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 . . . (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 “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 records described in paragraph 2, above, 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. 

 

9.   It is found that the request, described in paragraph 2, above, was the first FOI request ever received by Lt. Martins, and that he mistakenly believed that all FOI requests were processed through the Department of Correction’s FOI office, and that he was not to respond to them directly.   It is further found that, at some time in October, 2008, Lt. Martins became aware that the request, described in paragraph 2, above, was not, in fact, being processed by the department’s FOI office.   

 

10.  It is found that, by letter dated November 7, 2008, Lt. Martins provided to the complainant copies of records responsive to the requests described in paragraphs 2(a) and 2(b), above (the “November 7 letter”).   

 

11.  At the hearing in this matter, the complainant stated that he was satisfied with the response to the requests described in paragraphs 2(a) and 2(b), above, and that he wished to withdraw his appeal with respect to such requests.  Such appeal, as it relates to such requests, therefore, will not be considered.   

 

12.  With respect to the requests described in paragraphs 2(c) and 2(d), above, it is found that Lt. Martins further stated, in the November 7 letter:  “This information is available for your review at your facility in Administrative Directive 9.6, Administrative Remedies and in Administrative Directive 6.10, Inmate Property.  You can access this information in your facility library.”

 

13.  It is found that, on January 8, 2008, the respondents sent the complainant a copy of the November 7 letter, and a copy of those portions of Administrative Directive 9.6, entitled “Inmate Administrative Remedies,” that describe the process by which an inmate property claim is filed, processed and determined (“AD 9.6”).

 

14.  It is found that, by letter dated February 6, 2009, the respondents re-sent the complainant copies of the following records:  the November 7 letter; the portions of AD 9.6, described in paragraph 13, above; a complete copy of Administrative Directive 9.6; and a complete copy of Administrative Directive 6.10.

 

15.  At the hearing in this matter, the complainant stated that, although he had received the records described in paragraph 14, above, he still had not received records responsive to the requests described in paragraphs 2(c) and 2(d), above.   With regard to the request described in paragraph 2(c), above, Lt. Martins testified, and it is found, that the only “mission statement” of the Lost Property Board maintained by the respondents is found in Administrative Directive 9.6, in paragraph 1, entitled “Policy”.   It is found that this portion of Administrative Directive 9.6 was not provided to the complainant until February 6, 2009, and, further, that the approximately six-month delay in providing such record to the complainant was not prompt within the meaning of 1-212(a), G.S.   

 

16.  With regard to the request described in paragraph 2(d), above, Lt. Martins testified, and it is found that, AD 9.6, described in paragraph 13, above, is the only record maintained by the respondents that is responsive to the request described in paragraph 2(d), above.

 

17.  However, it is found that the respondents, in providing a copy of AD 9.6 to the complainant on January 8, 2009, failed to promptly respond to the request described in paragraph 2(d), above.

 

18.  It is therefore concluded that the respondents violated the promptness provisions of 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.  Henceforth, the respondents shall strictly comply with the promptness requirements contained in 1-212(a), G.S.

 

 

 

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of July 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:

 

Paul Fine, Jr. #204452

MacDougall-Walker C I

1153 East Street, South

Suffield, CT 06080

 

Lost Property Board, State of Connecticut,

Department of Correction; and

State of Connecticut, Department of Correction

C/o Nancy Kase O’Brasky, Esq.

Department of Correction

24 Wolcott Hill Road

Wethersfield, CT 06109

 

 

 

____________________________

S. Wilson

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC/2008-582FD/sw/7/23/2009