State Records Committee Appeal 03-10
BEFORE THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE OF THE STATE OF UTAH
FRANK MEDEL, JR., Petitioner vs.
UTAH DEPT. OF PUBLIC SAFETY, Respondent
DECISION AND ORDER
Case No. 03-10
By this appeal, Frank Medel seeks access to "all written reports generated by the Utah State Crime Lab in the analysis of physical evidence - Code R examinations obtained from the West Valley Police Department, Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office and Salt Lake City Policy Department which were sent to the Crime Lab." Mr. Medel's records request cites specific incident, criminal and County Attorney file numbers to identify the information he seeks. The State Records Committee, having reviewed the materials submitted by the parties, and having heard oral argument and testimony on July 29, 2003, now issues the following Decision and Order.
STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR DECISION
1. GRAMA specifies that "all records are public unless otherwise expressly provided by statute." Utah Code Ann. 63 2 201(2). GRAMA further provides that "[t]he disclosure of records to which access is governed or limited pursuant to . . . another state statute . . . is governed by the specific provisions of that statute . . . ." Utah Code Ann. 63 2 201(6); see also Utah Code Ann. 63-2-201(3)(b). Utah Code Ann. 53-10-406 states:
(1) The bureau shall:
(a) store all DNA specimens received and other physical evidence obtained from analysis of those specimens;
(b) analyze the specimens to establish the genetic profile of the donor or to otherwise determine the identity of persons or contract with other qualified public or private laboratories to conduct the analysis;
(c) maintain a criminal identification data base containing information derived from DNA analysis;
. . . .
(3) (a) In accordance with Subsection 63 2 304, all DNA specimens received shall be classified as protected.
(b) The Department of Public Safety may not transfer or disclose any DNA specimen, physical evidence, or criminal identification information obtained, stored, or maintained under this section, except under its provisions.
Id. (emphasis added).
2. Notably, the Utah Legislature passed House Bill 107 (DNA Amendments) in the 2003 General Session. This bill changed the GRAMA classification of DNA specimens received by the Department from private to protected. The Committee heard testimony that the information sought by Mr. Medel was created and derived from protected DNA specimens submitted to the Crime Laboratory. Therefore, the Committee is persuaded that Utah Code Ann. 53-10-406(3)(b) prohibits disclosure of the information requested.
WHEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED THAT, under the current statutory scheme, the Department of Public Safety was correct in its determination that it cannot disclose the requested information. The Department must follow the mandates set forth by the Legislature in Utah Code Ann. 53-10-406. The Department's decision to deny access to the requested information is affirmed.
RIGHT TO APPEAL
Either party may appeal this Decision and Order to the District Court. The petition for review must be filed no later than thirty (30) days after the date of this order. The petition for judicial review must be a complaint. The complaint and the appeals process are governed by the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure and by Utah Code Ann. 63-2-404. The court is required to make its decision de novo. In order to protect its rights on appeal, a party may wish to seek advice from an attorney.
Entered this 30th day of July, 2003.
BY THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE
Robert Woodhead, Chairman
State Records Committee