FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Ronald Harris,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2010-082

Christopher Corey, Deputy Warden,

State of Connecticut, Department of

Correction, Corrigan Correctional

Institution; and State of Connecticut,

Department of Correction, 

 
  Respondents January 13, 2011
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on October 5, 2010, at which time the complainant and the 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, by writing dated January 11, 2010, the complainant requested that the respondents provide him with copies of all written grievances filed with the respondents in the previous 36 months regarding property theft at the Corrigan Correctional Institution (hereinafter “the requested records”). 

 

3. It is found that, by memorandum dated January 19, 2010, the respondents acknowledged the request described in paragraph 2, above. 

 

4.  It is found that grievances filed by inmates are stored by the respondents in chronological order and are not cross-referenced by subject matter of grievance.  It is found that, because the complainant’s request covered a three year period, approximately 7,000 records needed to be reviewed in order to identify responsive records.

 

5.  It is found that, when the respondents received the request described in paragraph 2, above, they were short-staffed.  Nevertheless, it is found that a somewhat cursory search was conducted, which yielded no responsive records.   It is found that, by memorandum dated January 29, 2010, the respondents informed the complainant that they found no records responsive to his request. 

 

6.  By letter of complaint dated February 1, 2010, and filed February 8, 2010, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to provide him with copies of the requested records.  The complainant requested the imposition of a civil penalty in this matter.

 

            7.  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.

 

8.  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 . . . receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212.

 

            9.   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.”

 

10.  It is found that the requested records are public records and must be disclosed in accordance with 1-200(5), 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., unless they are exempt from disclosure. 

 

11.  It is found that, prior to the hearing in this matter, the respondents, who had gained additional staff in the interim, conducted a more thorough review of the approximately 7,000 records described in paragraph 4, above, and identified several pages of responsive records.

 

12.  At the hearing in this matter, the respondents pledged to immediately provide the responsive records described in paragraph 11, above, to the complainant.

 

13.  The Commission acknowledges the respondents’ staffing shortages and the broad nature of the complainant’s request.  Nevertheless, it is found that a period of ten months to comply with the request at issue was not prompt.  At the very least, the respondents might have provided the complainant with responsive records on a rolling basis, or communicated with him regarding the problems inherent in complying with the complainant’s expansive request.

 

14.   It is concluded that the respondents violated the promptness provisions of 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., in this matter.

 

15.  Based on the facts and circumstances of this case, the Commission declines to consider the imposition of a civil penalty.

 

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

 

1.  If they have not already done so, the respondents shall forthwith provide the complainant with copies of the requested records, free of charge.

 

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

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of January 13, 2011.

 

 

__________________________

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:

 

Ronald Harris, #308387

Corrigan Correctional Institution

986 Norwich-New London Turnpike

Uncasville, CT 06382

 

Christopher Corey, Deputy Warden,

State of Connecticut, Department of

Correction, Corrigan Correctional

Institution; and State of Connecticut,

Department of Correction

c/o James Neil, Esq.

Department of Correction

24 Wolcott Hill Road

Wethersfield, CT 06109

 

 

 

 

____________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

 

 

FIC/2010-082FD/paj/1/14/2011