FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Luis Fernandez,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2009-672

Chief, Police Department, City of

Danbury; and Police Department,

City of Danbury,

 
  Respondents September 8, 2010
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on July 29, 2010, at which time the complainant and respondents appeared 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.      On July 30, 2009, the complainant, in writing, made a request for many records, including personnel files of eight officers, policies and operating procedures of respondent police department, and the receipt for seized property in the complainant’s criminal case in October 2000.  The complainant also requested copies of all “civil suit[s]” against the eight officers.

 

3.      By letter received and filed on October 8, 2009, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to provide any of the records he requested.

 

4.      Section 1-200(5), G.S., provides in relevant part that:

 

“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.

 

5.      Section 1-210(a), G.S., provides in relevant part:

 

[e]xcept 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 the provisions of section 1-212.

 

6.      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 . . . .”

 

7.      It is found that the respondents provided many copies of records responsive to the complainant’s request, including two disclosures on September 8, 2009 and October 7, 2009.  It is found that the respondents provided such copies before they knew of the complainant’s appeal to this Commission.

 

8.      It is found that the respondents also provided copies of records responsive to the complainant’s request on May 27, 2010.

 

9.      It is found that the complainant’s original request for copies of all civil suits against the eight named officers was unlimited by time or pleading.  It is found that the respondents requested that the complainant narrow the scope of his request. It is found that on May 27, 2010, the respondents, having not heard from the complainant that he would narrow the scope of his request, provided copies of complaints in civil suits from 2002 to the present.  It is found that on July 7, 2010, the complainant limited his request for copies of all civil suits against the eight officers to complaints, only, for the period of 1998-2001.   

 

10.  It is found that at the time of this hearing, the records still sought by the complainant were:  complaints in civil suits brought against the eight police officers from 1998-2001, and the receipt for seized property in the complainant’s criminal matter, “arrest case no. CR00-110596, CR00-110597, and CR00-110598, on October 2000.”

 

11.   It is found that on September 8, 2010, the respondents provided the complainant with incident reports concerning another of the complainant’s criminal matters, which occurred in January 2000, as well as incident reports concerning his October 2000 arrest.  It is found that the respondents did not provide copies of receipt of seized property at that time.  It is found that on September 22, 2009, the complainant returned such records to the respondents, informing them that the records were not responsive to his request for records.

 

12.   It is found that the next time the respondents attempted to comply with the complainant’s request for records of seized property receipts in the complainant’s October 2000 criminal matter was on July 14, 2010.  It is found that the respondents provided copies of seized property receipts for the complainant’s January 2000 arrest, not his October 2000 arrest.

 

13.   At the hearing in this matter, the respondents agreed to search for copies of receipts of seized property for the October 2000 arrest.  The respondents also agreed to search for copies of complaints in civil suits against the eight named police officers for the period 1998-2001.

 

14.   On August 14, 2010, the respondents provided records responsive to the complainant’s request for copies of complaints in civil suits against the eight named police officers for the period 1998-2001.  It is found that the records concern a single civil suit against only one of the named police officers.

 

15.   It is found that the respondents failed to provide such records in a prompt manner to the complainant.

 

16.   It is concluded, therefore, that the respondents violated 1-212(a), G.S.

 

17.   With respect to the copies of receipts of seized property for the October 2000 arrest, it is found that the respondents contacted the clerk at G.A. 3.  It is found that the clerk confirmed the existence of two of the docket numbers provided by the complainant in his request for records.  It is found, however, that the respondents failed to prove that they do not maintain the receipts for seized property taken in the October 2000 arrest leading to criminal docket numbers CR00-110597S or CR00-110598S. 

 

18.   Accordingly, it is concluded that the respondents violated 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., by failing to provide copies of the requested records 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 search forthwith for records of receipt of property seized from the complainant in his October 2000 arrest, corresponding to criminal docket numbers CR00-110597S and CR00-110598S.  If the respondents are unable to find copies of such records, they shall inform the complainant of that in writing, and include the details of their search for records after receiving confirmation of the criminal case docket numbers from the clerk of G.A. 3.

 

2.      Henceforth, the respondents shall strictly comply with the promptness requirements of the FOI Act. 

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of September 8, 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:

 

Luis Fernandez, #279900

Cheshire Correctional Institution

900 Highland Avenue

Cheshire, CT 06410

 

Chief, Police Department, City of

Danbury; and Police Department,

City of Danbury

c/o Dianne Rosemark, Esq.

Assistant Corporation Counsel

City of Danbury

155 Deer Hill Avenue

Danbury, CT 06811

 

and

 

Daniel E. Casagrande, Esq.

Cramer & Anderson LLP

30 Main Street, Suite 303

Danbury, CT 06810

 

 

 

____________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

 

 

FIC/2009-672FD/paj/9/10/2010