FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Faroulh Dorlette,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2010-361

Commissioner, State of Connecticut,

Department of Correction; and

State of Connecticut, Department of

Correction,

 
  Respondents April 13, 2011
       

 

The above-captioned matter was consolidated for hearing with Docket # FIC 2010-284; Faroulh Dorlette v. Warden, State of Connecticut, Department of Correction, Northern Correctional Institution; and State of Connecticut, Department of Correction. Both matters were heard as contested cases on January 7, 2011, 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)(A), G.S.

 

2.  It is found that, by letter dated May 12, 2010, the complainant requested all records related to incident NCI 2009-10-079, including all records used in the Administrative Segregation process (the “requested records”).

 

3.   It is found that, by letter dated May 18, 2010, the respondents acknowledged the request.

 

4.  By letter dated June 7, 2010 and filed with the Freedom of Information Commission (“FOIC” or sometimes the “Commission”) on June 8, 2010, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents failed to provide the requested records in violation of the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”). The complainant requested the imposition of civil penalties.

 

5.  Section 1-212, G.S., states in relevant parts:

 

(a) Any person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record. The fee for any copy provided in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act:

 

(1)    By an executive, administrative or legislative office of the

state, a state agency or a department, institution, bureau, board, commission, authority or official of the state, including a committee of, or created by, such an office, agency, department, institution, bureau, board, commission, authority or official, and also including any judicial office, official or body or committee thereof but only in respect to its or their administrative functions, shall not exceed twenty-five cents per page…. 

 

….

 

(d) The public agency shall waive any fee provided for in this section when:

 

(1) The person requesting the records is an indigent individual; (emphasis added)

 

6.  The respondent Department’s Administrative Directive 3.10 (Fees, Reimbursements and Donations) provides, in relevant part:

 

An inmate shall be charged twenty-five cents for each page copied.  The fee shall be waived if an inmate is indigent.  For copies of records pursuant to the [FOI] Act, an inmate shall be considered indigent if the monetary balance in his or her inmate trust account, or any other known account, has not equaled or exceeded five dollars ($5.00) at any time (1) during the ninety (90) days preceding the receipt by the Department of the request for records and (2) during the days preceding the date on which the request for records is fulfilled (up to a maximum of ninety (90) days after the date of the request).

 

This five dollars ($5.00) standard has been found to be objective, fair and reasonable in so far as it applies to an inmate account at all times during the ninety days preceding the receipt of a records request. Docket #FIC 2009-137; Bryant Rollins v. Administrator, State of Connecticut, Department of Correction, Freedom of Information Office; and State of Connecticut, Department of Correction; see also Food Services Division Department of Correction, et. al. v. Freedom of Information Commission, Superior Court, J.D. of New Britain, Docket No. HHB CV-07-4014939, p. 8 (April 29, 2008, Schuman, J.).

 

7.  It is concluded that the requested records described in paragraph 2, above, are “public records” within the meaning of the FOIA.  

 

8.  At the hearing, the complainant also argued that the respondents did not provide the records promptly. 

 

9.  It is found that the respondents collected the records that were responsive to the complainant’s request and, on July 21, 2010, requested pre-payment of the copying fee in the amount of $15.25. The complainant asserted that he was indigent, and refused to approve a withdrawal from his inmate’s account.

 

10.  It is found, based upon the Department of Correction account statement and testimony at the hearing, that on the date of his request, the complainant had a balance of $41.72.     

 

11.  It is concluded that, based upon the standard set forth in paragraph 6, the complainant was not indigent at the time of his request. It is also concluded that the respondents did not violate the requirements of 1-212(d)(1), G.S., when they declined to find the complainant indigent and declined to provide the requested records to the complainant free of charge.

 

12.  It is finally found that Officer Sokolowski, the FOIA/Litigation Officer for Northern Correctional Institution, had 300 FOIA requests during 2010 and also responded to numerous requests from the Attorney General’s office with respect to lawsuits brought by inmates against the State of Connecticut. In the present case, one of the requested records was a report which Officer Sokolowski had to review for safety and security concerns. 

 

13.  It is also concluded that the respondents did not violate the promptness requirements of 1-212(a)(1), G.S., when they made records available on July 21, 2010,  which resulted in a period of two months following the request on May 12, 2010. Given the findings and conclusions herein, there is no need to address the issue of civil penalties in this matter.

 

 

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

 

1.  The complaint is hereby dismissed.

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of April 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:

 

Faroulh Dorlette, #306054

Northern Correctional Institution

287 Bilton Road

Somers, CT 06071

 

Commissioner, State of Connecticut,

Department of Correction; and

State of Connecticut, Department of

Correction

c/o Nicole Anker, Esq.

Department of Correction

24 Wolcott Hill Road

Wethersfield, CT 06109

 

 

 

____________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

 

 

FIC/2010-361/FD/paj/4/14/2011