FOI: Minutes09252013

TO: Freedom of Information Commission
FROM: Thomas A. Hennick
RE: Minutes of the Commission’s regular meeting of September 25, 2013
 
 
     A regular meeting of the Freedom of Information Commission was held on September 25, 2013, in the Freedom of Information Hearing Room, 18-20 Trinity Street, Hartford, Connecticut. The meeting convened at 2:08 p.m. with the following Commissioners present:
 
     Commissioner Owen P. Eagan, presiding
     Commissioner Jay Shaw
     Commissioner Jonathan J. Einhorn
     Commissioner Matthew Streeter
     Commissioner Christopher P. Hankins
     Commissioner Michael C. Daly
     Commissioner Lenny T. Winkler
     Commissioner Ryan P. Barry
 
     Also present were staff members, Colleen M. Murphy, Mary E. Schwind, Victor R. Perpetua, Clifton A. Leonhardt, Tracie C. Brown, Lisa F. Siegel, Kathleen K. Ross, Gregory F. Daniels, Valicia D. Harmon, Paula S. Pearlman, Cindy Cannata, and Thomas A. Hennick.
 
     The Commissioners unanimously voted to adopt the minutes of the Commission’s regular meeting of September 11, 2013.
 
     Those in attendance were informed that the Commission does not ordinarily record the remarks made at its meetings, but will do so on request.
 
Joshua Smith v. Commissioner, State of Connecticut, Department of Correction; and State of Connecticut, Department of Correction
 
     Joshua Smith participated via speakerphone. Attorney James Neil appeared on behalf of the respondents. The Commissioners unanimously voted to adopt the Hearing Officer’s Report. The proceedings were recorded digitally.
 
 
Shawn Crocker v. CTO Ilvento, FOI Coordinator, State of Connecticut, Department of Correction, Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center; and State of Connecticut, Department of Correction
 
     Shawn Crocker participated via speakerphone. Attorney James Neil appeared on behalf of the respondents. The Commissioners unanimously voted to adopt the Hearing Officer’s Report. The proceedings were recorded digitally.
 
 
Gary Sadler v. Commissioner, State of Connecticut, Department of Correction; State of Connecticut, Department of Correction; Commissioner, State of Connecticut, Department of Consumer Protection; and State of Connecticut, Department of Consumer Protection
 
     The Commissioners unanimously voted to adopt the Hearing Officer’s Report.
 
 
Paul Kadri v. Chairman, Board of Education, Groton Public Schools; and Board of Education, Groton Public Schools
 
     Paul Kadri appeared on his own behalf. Attorney Jeffrey Mogan appeared on behalf of the respondents. The Commissioners voted, 6-0, to amend the Hearing Officer’s Report. The Commissioners voted, 6-0, to adopt the Hearing Officer’s Report as amended. * The proceedings were recorded digitally. Commissioners Hankins and Winkler recused themselves from the matter.
 
 
James Torlai v. Commissioner, State of Connecticut, Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, Division of State Police; and State of Connecticut, Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, Division of State Police
 
     The Commissioners unanimously voted to adopt the Hearing Officer’s Report.
 
 
Mary Beth Litrico v. President, Eighth Utilities District, Town of Manchester; and Eighth Utilities District, Town of Manchester
 
     Mary Beth Litrico appeared on her own behalf. Attorney John LaBelle Jr. appeared on behalf of the respondents. The Commissioners voted, 7-0, to adopt the Hearing Officer’s Report. Commissioner Barry recused himself from the matter.
 
 
Jack Gillum and The Associated Press v. Chief, Police Department, Town of Newtown; and Police Department, Town of Newtown
 
     Attorney William Fish appeared on behalf of the complainants. Attorney Nathan Zezula appeared on behalf of the respondents. Attorney Steven Sedensky appeared on behalf of the intervenor, State’s Attorney, Division of Justice.  The Commissioners unanimously voted to amend the Hearing Officer’s Report. The Commissioners unanimously voted to adopt the Hearing Officer’s Report as amended. * The proceedings were recorded digitally.
 
 
Kathleen Murphy v. John Louizos, Timothy Abbazia, as members, Board of Finance Audit Committee, City of Stamford; and Board of Finance Audit Committee, City of Stamford
 
     The Commissioners unanimously voted to adopt the Hearing Officer’s Report.
 
 
 Docket #FIC 2013-049
David Cutler v. Attorney General, State of Connecticut, Office of the Attorney General; and State of Connecticut, Office of the Attorney General
 
     The Commissioners tabled the matter.
 
 
Joseph Tarzia v. Vice Chairman, Board of Finance, City of Stamford; and Board of Finance, City of Stamford
 
     The Commissioners unanimously voted to adopt the Hearing Officer’s Report.
 
 
Alireza Jamalipour v. Commissioner, State of Connecticut, Department of Transportation; and State of Connecticut, Department of Transportation
 
     Alireza Jamalipour appeared on his own behalf. Attorney Alice Sexton appeared on behalf of the respondents. The Commissioners unanimously voted to adopt the Hearing Officer’s Report. The proceedings were recorded digitally.
 
 
Gerald Pinto v. Chief, Police Department, Town of Stratford; and Police Department, Town of Stratford
 
     Cathy Kohut appeared on behalf of the complainant. Attorney Christopher Smedick appeared on behalf of the respondents. The Commissioners unanimously voted to adopt the Hearing Officer’s Report. The proceedings were recorded digitally.
 
 
     Victor R. Perpetua reported on pending appeals.
 
     Colleen M. Murphy reported that the legislative task force on privacy and access to records would be holding public hearings on October 1 and 16 in Hartford and on October 9 in Bridgeport.
 
 
 
     The meeting was adjourned at 4:32 p.m.
 
 
 

________________
Thomas A. Hennick
 
MINREGmeeting 09252013/tah/09302013
 
 
AMENDMENTS
 
Paul Kadri v. Chairman, Board of Education, Groton Public Schools; and Board of Education, Groton Public Schools
 
 
     The Hearing Officer’s Report is amended as follows:
 
     21. It is found that, before the respondents’ investigation was finalized, [the chairperson from] COUNSEL FOR the board of education received a request from counsel for the complainant for a preview of the investigation report.  It is further found that the chairperson requested that the board of education’s attorney provide her with legal advice concerning the risks involved in revealing the report before it was finalized.  It is found that, by email dated July 12, 2012, the board of education’s attorney provided his legal advice to the chairperson. Thereafter, it is found that the chairperson shared the two page email with the eight other members on the board of education.
 
 
Jack Gillum and The Associated Press v. Chief, Police Department, Town of Newtown; and Police Department, Town of Newtown
 
     The Hearing Officer’s Report is amended as follows:
 
     17.  It is further found, with respect to the request described in paragraph 2(b), above, that the Newtown respondents do not maintain any records of 911 calls originating from Sandy Hook Elementary School [between January 2002 and the date of the request, but that they do maintain] OTHER THAN audio recordings of 911 calls made by members of the public originating from the school on December 14, 2012.
 
     20.  Thus, while the new law exempts from disclosure certain audio recordings of conversations, presumably between first responders, in which the conditions of victims of homicide are described in such recordings, it specifically does not shield from disclosure recordings of 911 calls from members of the public to law enforcement agencies.  It is found that the in camera records consist of such 911 calls from members of the public to law enforcement agencies.  WHETHER THESE RECORDS ARE EXEMPT FROM DISCLOSURE DEPENDS UPON THE APPLICABILITY OF ANY STATUTORY EXEMPTIONS; THOSE EXEMPTIONS CLAIMED BY THE RESPONDENTS HEREIN ARE DISCUSSED BELOW.

     21.  [Nevertheless] FIRST, the respondents claim that the in camera records are exempt from disclosure[, first,] under §17a-101k, G.S.
 
     [40.]  41.  Based upon the foregoing, it is concluded that the Newtown respondents violated  §§1-210(a), and 1-212(a), G.S., by failing to comply with the request for records described in paragraphs 2(a) and (b), above, and more particularly described in paragraphs 14 and 18, above.
 
     [41.]  40.  [The Commission is dismayed that it is again presented with an issue that it addressed in 2008 wherein a local police department refused to disclose the 911 calls at issue based on a directive from a state’s attorney because such records relate to an “ongoing” investigation.]  In Jon Schoenhorn v. Chief, Police Department, Town of Farmington, Docket #FIC 2007-520 (September 10, 2008), the Commission concluded that the police department in that case violated the FOI Act by failing to disclose 911 recordings, and also noted that “pure reliance on advice or a directive from a state’s attorney was not reasonable grounds for withholding a public record, in the absence of any statutory authority.”  [As noted in that case, the Commission again notes that, although the state’s attorney’s office has the right to request that the public agency not disclose public records, it does not have the right to dictate the public agency’s actions.  It is found that, in the present case, the Newtown respondents failed to make an independent assessment of their obligations under the FOI Act with respect to disclosure of public records.  This is particularly evidenced by the fact that some of the requested records do not pertain to the December 14th shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and no statutory exemption was claimed for them.   The Commission sincerely urges the Newtown respondents to review future requests for records of investigations independently for statutory authority for any claims of exemption.]
 
     The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
 
     1.  Forthwith, the respondents shall provide the complainant with a copy of the records, described in paragraph [40] 41, above, free of charge.  The respondents may redact any information contained in the in camera records that is not responsive to the request described in paragraph 2(b), above.




Content Last Modified on 10/2/2013 1:50:40 PM