FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Timothy Dobson,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2009-776

Chief, Police Department, City of

Bridgeport; and Police Department,

City of Bridgeport,

 
  Respondents October 27, 2010
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on August 31, 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.      It is found that on November 2, 2009, the complainant requested a copy of the complete file in case numbers 88-3176 and 88-2155.

 

3.      It is found that the complainant received no response from the respondents and therefore wrote to the respondents again on December 13, 2009, requesting the records described in paragraph 2, above.

 

4.      By letter filed on December 22, 2009, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to provide copies of the records responsive to the complainant’s request, described in paragraph 2, above. 

 

5.      Section 1-200(5), G.S., defines “public records” as follows:

 

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, …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 inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours or to receive a copy of such records in accordance with the provisions of 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 records requested by the complainant are public records within the meaning of 1-200(5), 1-210(a), and 1-212(a), G.S.

 

9.      It is found that the complainant sent his request to the respondents by certified mail.  It is found that a substitute worker in the mail room signed for receipt of the request on November 20, 2009.  It is found, however, that neither the respondent chief nor the respondent city’s corporation counsel ever received the request that had been delivered by certified mail.

 

10.   It is found that the respondents first learned in fact of the complainant’s request for records on April 5, 2010, when they received notice of the complainant’s appeal to this Commission.

 

11.   It is found that on June 23, 2010, the respondents provided copies of records of the file for case no. 88-2155, but not case no. 88-3176. 

 

12.   At the hearing in this matter, the complainant stated that he was satisfied with the respondents’ compliance with his request for the file in case no. 88-2155.

 

13.   With respect to the records in case no. 88-3176, it is found that the records were created over 20 years ago.  It is found that the respondents searched for the records, but were unable to find the file.  It is found that the respondents searched their archived records by name, by first letter of the last name, by the letter preceding and subsequent to, alphabetically, the first letter of the last name.  It is found that the respondents searched their electronic databases by the complainant’s date of birth, by last name, and by similar last name.  It is found that the respondents’ search, although unfruitful, was diligent, in light of the age of the case and the resources available to the respondents. 

 

14.   It is found that the respondents do not maintain the records in case number 88-3176.

 

15.   Accordingly, it is concluded that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act.

 

16.   The respondents promised to continue to search for the records as they search for other, unrelated, archived records, and that if they discover the file for case no. 88-3176, they will provide it to the complainant forthwith.

 

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 October 27, 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:

 

Timothy Dobson #162880

Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center

986 Norwich-New London Tpke.

Uncasville, CT  06382

 

Chief, Police Department, City of Bridgeport; and

Police Department, City of Bridgeport

c/o Edmund F. Schmidt, Esq.

Assistant City Attorney

999 Broad Street

Bridgeport, CT  06604

 

 

 

____________________________

Cynthia A. Cannata

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

 

 

FIC/2009-776/FD/cac/10/29/2010