FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

Alex Velez,

 
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2010-468

Counselor Supervisor Tracy Hartshorn,

Freedom of Information Liaison, State

of Connecticut, Department of Correction,

North District Office; and State of

Connecticut, Department of Correction,

 
  Respondents  June 8, 2011
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on March 11, 2011 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.). 

 

For purposes of hearing, the above-captioned matter was consolidated with docket #FIC 2010-383, Alex Velez v. Lieutenant A. Martin, Claims/Property Liaison Officer, State of Connecticut, Department of Correction; and State of Connecticut, Department of Correction.

 

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 letter dated May 10, 2010, the complainant made a request to the respondent for the following records:

 

a.       “a copy of the “video review findings” that was conducted by D.A. Michael Lajoie from the incident dated 8-14-09;”

 

b.      “a copy of the security division’s investigation report, statements, findings and conclusions of reports dated 8-14-09;” and

 

c.       “a copy of the finding query that was conducted for the incident dated 8-14-09.”

 

3.      It is found that by letter dated May 18, 2010, the respondents informed the complainant that his request had been received and was being processed. 

 

4.      By letter dated July 21, 2010, the complainant appealed to this Commission alleging that the respondents violated the FOI Act by failing to comply with his request.  The complainant requested the imposition of civil penalties against the respondents.

 

5.      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. 

 

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

 

7.      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.”

 

8.      It is found that the requested records are public records within the meaning of 1-200(5), 1-210(a), and 1-212(a), G.S.

 

9.      It is found that during the complainant’s incarceration, he was restrained by Department of Correction staff during the course of which one staff member punched the complainant several times.  It is found that the corresponding incident report included several recommendations that an investigation for excessive use of force be conducted.

 

10.   Subsequent to the May 18, 2010 letter, described in paragraph 3, above, the respondents informed the complainant, in a letter dated August 3, 2010, that he had already been provided with “the incident reports related to the August 9, 2009 incident and that copies of the investigation could not be released.”

 

11.   At the hearing on this matter the complainant testified, and it is found, that he has received a copy of the incident reports related to the incident which records are responsive to his request described in paragraph 2b, above.

 

12.   It is found, however, that after receipt of notice of the complaint in this matter, the respondents, through its Freedom of Information Commission Administrator, conducted a search for records of an excessive use of force investigation pertaining to an incident involving the complainant that occurred on August 14, 2009, in all locations wherein such records might reasonably be maintained.  It is found that such records would have been responsive to the complainant’s request described in paragraphs 2a and 2c, above; however, no such records were found. 

 

13.   It is found that no records of an excessive use of force investigation pertaining to an incident involving the complainant that occurred on August 14, 2009 are maintained by the respondents.

 

14.   It is found therefore that the respondents did not violate the disclosure provisions of the FOI Act as alleged by the complainant.

 

15.   It is noted, however, that the August 3, 2010 letter, described in paragraph 10, above, refers to an incident that occurred on August 9, 2010 rather than August 14, 2009, which suggests that the respondents were not able to locate any records related to the incident described in paragraph 9, above, because it occurred on August 9, 2010 and not August 14, 2009, as stated in the complainant’s request.  But because this Commission’s jurisdiction is limited to the request that was actually made by the complainant, the matter will not be addressed further herein.  But this determination does not preclude the complainant from making a request for records related to an August 9, 2010 incident.

 

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 June 8, 2011.

 

__________________________

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:

 

Alex Velez #225611

Bridgeport Correctional Center

1106 North Avenue

Bridgeport, CT  06604

 

Counselor Supervisor Tracy Hartshorn, Freedom of Information Liaison,

State of Connecticut, Department of Correction, North District Office; and

3 Walker Drive

Enfield, CT  06082

 

State of Connecticut,

Department of Correction

24 Wolcott Hill Road

Wethersfield, CT  06109

 

Courtesy Copy:

 

James Neil, Esq.

Department of Correction

24 Wolcott Hill Road

Wethersfield, CT  06109

 

 

 

 

____________________________

Cynthia A. Cannata

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

 

 

FIC/2010-468/FD/cac/6/9/2011