FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
E. Gregory Cerritelli,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2008-747

Chief, Police Department,

City of Derby; and Police

Department, City of Derby, 

 
  Respondents September 23, 2009
       

 

      The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on March 19, 2009, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. 

 

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 November 14, 2008, the complainant made a request to the respondents for a copy of “any and all correspondence, police reports, affidavits and CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch) cards related to ...Complaint No. 08-10889.”    

           

3.  It is found that the respondents denied the complainant’s request, claiming that the records requested, described in paragraph 2, above, consisted of uncorroborated allegations that an individual had engaged in criminal activity that would be subject to destruction pursuant to 1-216, G.S.

 

            4.  By letter of complaint dated November 20, 2008 and filed November 25, 2008, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by denying his request for copies of records.   

 

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 (1) inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours . . . (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 found that the respondents maintain the records described in paragraph 2, above, and that 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. 

 

9.      It is found that the respondents prepared an arrest warrant based on the allegations set forth in the records described in paragraph 2, above, but the State’s Attorney found a lack of probable cause.  It is found that the respondents now consider the case to be closed.

 

10.  The respondents submitted the records described in paragraph 2, above, to the Commission for in camera inspection, which records have been identified as IC-2008-747-1 through IC-2008-747-16.   

 

11.  The respondents contend that 1-210(b)(3)(G), G.S., exempts the requested records from mandatory disclosure.  That provision states, in relevant part, 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 … (G) uncorroborated allegations subject to destruction pursuant to section 1-216.

 

            12.  Section 1-216, G.S., provides, in relevant part:

 

... records of law enforcement agencies consisting of uncorroborated allegations that an individual has engaged in criminal activity shall be reviewed by the law enforcement agency one year after the creation of such records.  If the existence of the alleged criminal activity cannot be corroborated within ninety days of the commencement of such review, the law enforcement agency shall destroy such records.

 

            13.  It is found that the respondents maintain the records described in paragraph 2, above, and that such records are public records within the meaning of 1-210(a), G.S.

 

            14.  In contested case Docket #FIC 94-291, Rachel Gottlieb and The Hartford Courant v. State of Connecticut, Department of Public Safety, Division of State Police, (hereinafter “FIC 94-291”) the Commission found that Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition (1990), defines “corroborate” as “to strengthen, to add weight or credibility to a thing by additional and confirming facts or evidence.” Ballentines Law Dictionary, Third Edition (1969) defines corroborate as “to state facts tending to produce confidence in the truth of a statement made by another.”  Funk & Wagnall New Standard Dictionary of the English Language (1946) defines corroborate as “to give increased support to; make more sure or evident.”

 

            15.  In FIC 94-291, the Commission found that “the reports contain similar accounts relayed to the respondent by different interviewees concerning the allegations under investigation.” The Commission went on to find that “the requested reports contain allegations which were corroborated.”

 

            16.  In this case, as in FIC 94-291, it is found that the in camera records contain similar accounts of incidents told to the respondents by different individuals, and information that tends to strengthen, add weight and support allegations which were made.

 

            17.  It is found that allegations may be corroborated without rising to the level of probable cause that a crime has been committed.  See  Torres v. Chief, Police Department, City of New London, Docket #FIC 2005-553 (allegations were corroborated, although the State’s Attorney declined to prosecute because it would be difficult for the State to sustain its burden of proof).

 

            18.  Based upon careful review of the in camera records, it is found that such records do not contain uncorroborated allegations within the meaning of 1-210(b)(3)(G), G.S.

 

            19.  Consequently, it is found that disclosure of the in camera records would not result in the disclosure of uncorroborated allegations within the meaning of 1-210(b)(3)(G), G.S.

 

            20.  It is therefore concluded that the in camera records are not permissibly exempt from disclosure under 1-210(b)(3)(G) and 1-216, G.S., and further that the respondents violated the disclosure provisions of 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., by denying the complainant’s request.

 

 

 

The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:

 

1.         Forthwith, the respondents shall provide the complainant with a copy of the records described in paragraph 2 of the findings, above, free of charge.

 

 

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of September 23, 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:

 

E. Gregory Cerritelli

Knight, Conway & Cerritelli, L.L.C.

7 Elm Street

New Haven, CT 06510

 

Chief, Police Department,

City of Derby; and Police

Department, City of Derby

C/o Joseph T. Coppola, Esq.

115 Technology Drive, Suite B 207

Trumbull, CT 06611

 

 

____________________________

S. Wilson

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC/2008-747FD/sw/9/25/2009