FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Michael Nowacki,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2010-699

State of Connecticut,

Judicial Branch,

Family Commission,

 
  Respondent

August 24, 2011

       

           

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 11, 2011, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.

 

            After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:

 

            1.  The respondent is a public agency only with respect to its administrative functions, within the meaning of 1-200(1), G.S.

 

2.  By letter received and filed November 5, 2010, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act in the conduct of an October 6, 2010 meeting and in denying him access to certain records. The complainant also made various factual allegations that, on their face, do not allege a violation of the FOI Act. The complainant additionally requested the imposition of civil penalties against the respondent.

 

3.  The respondent contends that the allegations made by the complainant do not relate to its administrative functions, and that the Commission therefore lacks subject matter jurisdiction. 

 

4.  It is found that the respondent’s October 6, 2010 meeting agenda consisted of the following:

 

I.    Review and approval of minutes

II.  GAL protocol to bring matters to the court’s attention and the duration of the GAL’s appointment

III. Self-represented parties filing appearances “in lieu of” attorneys

IV. Appellate Court and automatic orders

V.   Ex parte motions for custody

VI.  Revisions to Financial Affidavit form

VII. Such other matters that may come before the  Commission

VIII. Next meeting

 

5.  It is found that the records requested by the complainant, so far as can be ascertained from his complaint (which did not attach a copy of a records request) pertain to legislative changes then being proposed by the respondent, and rules of court.

 

6.  In Rules Committee of the Superior Court v. FOIC, 192 Conn. 234, 243 (1984), the Supreme Court construed the term “administrative functions” in 1-200(1), G.S., to exclude matters involved in the adjudication of cases, and to refer only to “matters relating to the internal management of the internal institutional machinery of the court system.”

 

7.  In Clerk of the Superior Court v. FOIC, 278 Conn. 28 (2006), our Supreme Court more broadly concluded that, for purposes of the FOI Act, “the judicial branch's administrative functions consist of activities relating to its budget, personnel, facilities and physical operations and that records unrelated to those activities are exempt.” Id. at 53.

 

8. It is found that the matters taken up by the respondent at its October 6, 2010 meeting, and the records sought by the complainant, plainly involve matters involved in the adjudication of cases. Indeed, the adjudication of cases is the specific focus of the complainant’s concerns.

 

9. It is also found that the matters taken up by the respondent at its October 6, 2010 meeting, and the records sought by the complainant, plainly do not pertain to the respondent’s budget, personnel, facilities and physical operations.

 

10.  It is concluded that neither the respondent’s October 6, 2010 meeting, nor the records sought by the complainant, pertain to an administrative function, and that the respondent was therefore not a public agency in its conduct of such a meeting or its decision whether to disclose such records.

 

11. The Commission notes that the respondent provided many records to the complainant, and that its October 6, 2010 meeting was open to the public, both reflecting the Judicial Branch’s commitment to openness.

 

 

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 August 24, 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:

 

Michael Nowacki

319 Lost District Drive

New Canaan, CT  06840

 

State of Connecticut, Judicial Branch, Family Commission

c/o Martin R. Libbin, Esq.

Deputy Director

Legal Services

100 Washington Street

Hartford, CT  06106

 

 

 

 

____________________________

Cynthia A. Cannata

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

 

 

 

FIC/2010-699/FD/cac/8/24/2011