State Records Committee Appeal 04-16
BEFORE THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE OF THE STATE OF UTAH
THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE and
MATTHEW D. LaPLANTE Appellants,
SALT LAKE CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT,Appellee.
DECISION AND ORDER
Case No. 04-16
By this appeal, the Salt Lake Tribune and staff reporter Matthew D. LaPlante ("Appellants") seek an order compelling the Salt Lake City Police Department ("SLCPD") "all initial reports from a 'missing person' case inolving Lori Kay Hacking, filed on or about July 19, 2004" and "all initial reports involving suspect, victim or involved person Mark Douglas Hacking, including, but not limited to reports made on or about the morning of July 20, 2004."
The State Records Committee, having reviewed the written materials submitted by the parties, and having heard oral argument and testimony on November 18, 2004, now issues the following Decision and Order.
STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR DECISION
1. The Government Records Access and Management Act ("GRAMA") specifies that "[a]ll records are public unless otherwise expressly provided by statute." Utah Code Ann. 63-2-201(2). GRAMA also provides that records properly classified as "protected" or otherwise "restricted pursuant to court rule, another state statute, federal statute, or federal regulation . . ." are not public. Utah Code Ann. 63-2-201(3).
2. SLCPD has classified its investigative files regarding the Hacking murder case as "protected" and bases its denial on that classification. Therefore, the issue before us is whether that classification is proper. After considering the evidence and argument of the parties, the Records Committee finds that SLCPD has properly classified the investigation file as a protected record under Utah Code Ann. 63-2-304(9)(a), (c) and (d).
3. Specifically, the Committee finds that information in the documents withheld contains identification of individuals not generally known to the public who could reasonably aid in the investigation. Further, disclosure of the information sought could interfere with the investigation or influence a potential trier of fact, thus creating a danger of depriving the defendant his right to a fair trial or impartial hearing.
WHEREFORE, it is ordered that the appeal is denied in its entirety.
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. 63-2-402 and -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 23rd day of November, 2004.
BY THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE
Patricia Smith-Mansfield, Chairperson
State Records Committee