FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Kenyon L. Joseph,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2009-509

Chief, Police Department,

City of Meriden; and

Police Department,

City of Meriden,

 
  Respondents July 28, 2010
       

           

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on March 1, 2010, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts, and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.   The case was consolidated with Docket #FIC 2009-508, Kenyon L. Joseph v. Chief, Police Department, City of New Britain et al.  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.  By letter of complaint filed September 2, 2009, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by denying his request for copies of certain police reports.

 

3.  It is found that, by letter dated July 7, 2009, the complainant requested any and all records contained in the respondents’ files for cases numbered 01-33689 and 01-32157.

 

4.  It is found that, by application dated July 28, 2009, the complainant reiterated his request for any and all documents contained in the respondents’ files for cases numbered 01-33689 and 01-32157, and added a request for any and all documents contained in the respondents’ files for case number 01-32151.

 

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 (1) inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours, (2) copy such records in accordance with subsection (g) of section 1-212, or (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212. 

 

7.  Section 1-212(a), G.S., provides in relevant part: “Any person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record.”

 

8.  It is concluded 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, with respect to case number 01-33689, the respondents provided all the records in their possession on August 11, 2009, except for signed witness statements, and copies of certain photographs that were not provided until February 23, 2010.           

 

            10.  Section 1-210(b)(3)(B ), G.S., provides 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 … (B) signed statements of witnesses ….           

 

11.  It is found that the records withheld by the respondents pursuant to 1-210(b)(3)(B), G.S., are in fact signed statements of witnesses that are permissibly exempt from disclosure, and that the respondents therefore did not violate the FOI Act by withholding them from the complainant.

 

12.  The complainant maintains that he was not provided all the photographs that should be in the respondents’ files.

 

            13.  It is found, however, that most of the photographs that the complainant seeks were taken and maintained by the Connecticut State Police Major Crimes Unit that processed the crime scene, and are not maintained by the respondents.

 

14.  The complainant also contends that officers’ field notes, which they used when testifying in 2001, were not provided to him.

 

15.  It is found, however, that no field notes are contained in the case files maintained by the respondents, and that the respondents no longer maintain the officers’ field notes in any other location.

 

16.  It is found that the complainant no longer seeks records in the file of case number 01-32157, as that case is not relevant to his own case.

           

17.  It is found that the records in the file for case number 01-32151 were erased by operation of law, but were provided to the complainant because he is the subject of that file.  The respondents redacted from that file the names of witnesses pursuant to 1-210(b)(3)(A), G.S., which provides 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 (A) the identity of informants not otherwise known or the identity of witnesses not otherwise known whose safety would be endangered or who would be subject to threat or intimidation if their identity was made known ….

 

18.  It is found that the respondents properly redacted the names of witnesses because the identities of those witnesses are not otherwise known to the inmate population, and because the safety of those witnesses would be endangered by disclosure to the inmate population.

 

19.  It is found that the complainant had not, as of the date of the hearing in this matter, received the photographs that were mailed to him on or about February 23, 2010, or the records described in paragraphs 11 and 12, above, that were mailed on the same date.  It is found that those records either are being reviewed or have been withheld by the Department of Correction (“DOC”), and that any action by the DOC in withholding records may be appealed by the complainant to this Commission.

 

20.  It is concluded that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act as alleged.

 

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

 

            1.  The complaint is dismissed.

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of July 28, 2010.

 

 

____________________________

Cynthia A. Cannata

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:

 

Kenyon L. Joseph #207827

Northern Correctional Institution

287 Bilton Road

Somers, CT  06071

 

Chief, Police Department, City of Meriden; and

Police Department, City of Meriden

c/o John H. Gorman, Esq.

City of Meriden Department of Law

142 East Main Street

Suite 240

Meriden, CT  06450

 

 

 

 

____________________________

Cynthia A. Cannata

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

FIC/2009-509FD/cac/8/4/2010