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 2009-305

Commissioner, State of Connecticut,

Department of Correction; and State

of Connecticut, Department of Correction,

 
  Respondents April 28, 2010
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on October 22, 2009 at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts 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 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 April 24, 2009, to a Correctional Officer Allen, the complainant made a request to the respondents for various records, which records included all paperwork generated during his disciplinary review hearing by the Disciplinary Review Investigator, the Hearing Officer, and a Counselor Wilson.

 

3.      It is found that, at the instruction of Correctional Officer Allen, the complainant made his request again to a Counselor Baker by letter dated April 30, 2009.

 

4.      By letter dated May 14, 2009 and filed on May 19, 2009, the complainant appealed to this Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to comply with his request.

 

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:

 

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 . . . 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 requested records are public records within the meaning of 1-200(5), 1-210(a), and 1-212(a), G.S.

 

9.      It is found that after receiving notice from this Commission that the complainant had filed an appeal, the respondents met with the complainant personally, on or about July 9, 2009, to review his request in an effort to determine what records the complainant was seeking.

 

10.   It is found that, by letter dated July 28, 2009, the respondents informed the complainant that the records he requested had been compiled and that once he paid the copying fee, or if his account remained at zero for the next ninety days, the records would be provided to him.

 

11.   It is found that a series of events occurred which precluded the complainant from corresponding further with the respondents about his requests, which included the complainant being placed in segregated population without any of his personal property, which included pen and paper.

 

12.   It is further found that the records that were originally compiled, which the respondents reasonably believed were responsive to the complainant’s requests, were not the records the complainant was seeking, and that the records he was seeking were maintained at another correctional facility.

 

13.   It is found that once the respondents learned what records the complainant actually wanted, the correct records were compiled and forwarded to Ms. Baker, and, notwithstanding the complainant’s refusal to accept some of them, were offered to him, free of charge, on October 13 and October 23, 2009. 

 

14.   It is found that there are no other records responsive to the complainant’s requests.

 

15.   At the hearing on this matter, the complainant expressed his frustration with the respondents’ delay in responding to and complying with his requests, and contended that the respondents deliberately delayed complying with his requests by requiring him to request the records more than once and by requiring him to pay for the records he requested when he had no funds in his account.

 

16.   It is found that what contributed to the delay in complying with the complainant’s requests was the break-down in communication that occurred after the respondents’ meeting with the complainant in July 2009, for which both parties can be held accountable.  

 

17.   It is found, however, that the respondents offered no explanation for their failure to respond to the complainant’s request between his April 30, 2009 request, described in paragraph 3, above, and their meeting with him on or about July 9, 2009, except to suggest that the complainant could have simply asked Ms. Baker, who was readily available during that time period, about his request before he filed his complaint. 

 

18.   It is concluded, therefore, that, in that regard, the respondents violated the promptness provisions of 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.      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 regular meeting of April 28, 2010.

 

 

____________________________

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

Corrigan Radgowski C I

986 Norwich-New London Tpke.

Uncasville, CT 06382


Commissioner, 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/2009-305FD/sw/4/29/2010