FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
John S. Kaminski,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2009-544

Executive Director, State of Connecticut,

Police Officer Standards and Training Council; and
State of Connecticut, Police Officer Standards and
Training Council,

  Respondents August 11, 2010
       

           

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on December 3, 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.).  This matter was consolidated for the purposes of hearing with Docket #FIC 2009-091, John Kaminski v. Office of the Chief State’s Attorney.

 

            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 16, 2009, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by denying his request for a certain search and seizure guide authored by Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Timothy Sugrue.

 

3.  It is found that the requested record is a guide for police officers on current search and seizure law authored and compiled by attorney Sugrue in connection with his duties as an appellate attorney with the Chief State’s Attorney’s Office.  Attorney Sugrue principally uses the guide to provide guidance to police officers.

 

4.  It is found that attorney Sugrue also provided the requested guide to instructors at the respondent Police Officer Standards and Training Council (“POST”), who then used it in preparing lesson plans for cadets receiving training at POST.

 

5.  It is found that the respondent POST has a copy of the requested guide.

 

6.  It is found that the complainant began seeking a copy of the requested guide by letter to the respondents dated January 12, 2009, when the respondents referred him to its author, attorney Sugrue, at the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney.  It is found that the complainant was refused a copy by the Chief State’s Attorney’s office, and that that refusal was affirmed in Docket #FIC 2009-091, John Kaminski v. Office of the Chief State’s Attorney (maintenance and distribution of the guide is not an administrative function of the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney).

 

7.  It is found that the complainant re-requested the guide from the respondents in this case by letter dated June 18, 2009, and was again referred to attorney Sugrue.

 

8.  It is found that, following additional correspondence around the topic of the requested guide and other related records, the complainant reiterated his request for the guide, but did not receive it.

 

9.  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.

 

10.  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 . . . or (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212.

 

11.  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.”

 

12.  It is found that the requested guide described in paragraph 3, above,  is a public record and must be disclosed in accordance with 1-200(5), 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., unless it is exempt from disclosure. 

 

13.  The respondents maintain that disclosure of the requested guide rests with the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney, and that since the complainant may not obtain a copy there, he must similarly be denied a copy by the respondents.

 

14.  It is found, however, that the unavailability of the requested guide from another source does not control its disclosure by the respondents pursuant to 1-210(a), G.S., and that the respondents have failed to claim a statutory exemption to disclosure under the FOI Act.

 

15.  It is therefore concluded that the respondents violated the FOI Act by refusing to provide a copy of the guide to the complainant.

 

 

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

 

            1.  The respondents shall forthwith provide a copy of the requested guide to the complainant, free of charge.

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of August 11, 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:

 

John S. Kaminski #241124

MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution

1153 East Street South

Suffield, CT  06078

 

Executive Director, State of Connecticut,

Police Officer Standards and Training Council; and

State of Connecticut, Police Officer Standards and Training Council

c/o Stephen R. Sarnoski, Esq.

Assistant Attorney General

Office of the Attorney General

110 Sherman Street

Hartford, CT  06105

 

 

 

 

____________________________

Cynthia A. Cannata

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

 

FIC/2009-544FD/cac/8/13/2010