FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Betsy Franco De La Cruz,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2009-549

Commissioner, State of Connecticut,

Department of Children and Families; and

State of Connecticut, Department of

Children and Families,

 
  Respondents July 28, 2010
       

           

This matter was scheduled to be heard as a contested case on December 7, 2009.  On November 12, 2009, the respondents moved to dismiss the matter without a hearing pursuant to 1-206(b)(4), G.S.  The hearing officer declined at that time to act on the respondents’ motion so as to give the complainant an opportunity to be heard, and this matter was heard as scheduled on December 7, 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.  By letter of complaint filed September 18, 2009, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents violated 1-210(c), G.S., by delivering an inmate-requested copy of her personnel file to the correctional institution housing the inmate.

 

3.  Section 1-210(c), G.S., provides:

Whenever a public agency receives a request from any person confined in a correctional institution or facility or a Whiting Forensic Division facility, for disclosure of any public record under the Freedom of Information Act, the public agency shall promptly notify the Commissioner of Correction or the Commissioner of Mental Health and Addiction Services in the case of a person confined in a Whiting Forensic Division facility of such request, in the manner prescribed by the commissioner, before complying with the request as required by the Freedom of Information Act.  If the commissioner believes the requested record is exempt from disclosure pursuant to subdivision (18) of subsection (b) of this section, the commissioner may withhold such record from such person when the record is delivered to the person's correctional institution or facility or Whiting Forensic Division facility.

4.  Section 1-206(b)(4), G.S., provides:

 

      Notwithstanding any provision of this subsection to the contrary, in the case of an appeal to the commission of a denial by a public agency, the commission may, upon motion of such agency, confirm the action of the agency and dismiss the appeal without a hearing if it finds, after examining the notice of appeal and construing all allegations most favorably to the appellant, that … the agency has committed a technical violation of the Freedom of Information Act that constitutes a harmless error that does not infringe the appellant’s rights under said act.

 

5.  It is found that, on or about June 16, 2008, the respondents received a request from a person confined in a Connecticut correctional institution for records including the personnel records of the complainant.

 

6.  It is found that the respondents sent the requested records to the inmate in care of the correctional institution in which he was confined, on or about December 9, 2008, without first notifying the institution as, required by 1-210(c), G.S.

 

7.  It is concluded that the respondents violated 1-210(c), G.S.

 

8.  It is found, however, that the respondents notified the complainant that the records had been mailed, and that the complainant then contacted the warden of the correctional institution, as a result of which the records were intercepted on December 12, 2008.

 

9.  It is found that the complainant’s personnel records were never delivered to the inmate who had requested them.

 

10.  It is found that the complainant’s personnel records were returned to the respondents on or about December 18, 2008.

 

11.  It is therefore concluded that the violation described in paragraph 7, above, was only a technical violation of the FOI Act that constitutes a harmless error that did not infringe the appellant’s rights under the Act.

 

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.

 

 

____________________________

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:

 

Betsy Franco De La Cruz

c/o Franco

PO Box 3957

Manchester, CT 06045

 

Commissioner, State of Connecticut,

Department of Children and Families; and

State of Connecticut, Department of

Children and Families

c/o Thomas De Matteo, Esq.

Department of Children and Families

505 Hudson Street

Hartford, CT 06106

 

 

 

____________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

FIC/2009-549FD/paj/8/4/2010