State Records Committee Appeal 05-06
BEFORE THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE OF THE STATE OF UTAH
SOUTHERN UTAH WILDERNESS
ALLIANCE and the WILDERNESS
REFERENCE CENTER, Appellee.
DECISION AND ORDERCase No. 05-06
By this appeal, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and the Wilderness Society (collectively "SUWA"), Appellants, seek an order compelling the Automated Geographic Reference Center ("AGRC"), Appellee, to disclose the records requested pursuant to Appellants' Government Records Access and Management Act ("GRAMA") request dated 2 December 2004 for "records concerning [certain] roads/routes located in Emery County." Sean Phelan represented the Appellants, SUWA. Assistant Attorneys General Roger R. Fairbanks and Jaysen R. Oldroyd represented the Appellee, AGRC.
The State Records Committee, having reviewed the written materials submitted by the parties, and having heard oral argument on 14 April 2005, 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) (2004).
2. GRAMA also provides that records properly classified as "private, controlled, or 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) (2004).
3. Section 63-2-403(7) (2004) requires the Records Committee to hold a hearing within the time allowed by statute and to permit the parties to testify, present evidence, and comment on the issues. Utah Code Ann. 63-2-403(8) (2004). At the hearing conducted 14 April 2005, counsel for parties presented argument and responded to the Committee's questioning about the legal status of the matter and the purposes for which the subject records were created. After receiving argument and being fully advised upon their additional questioning, the Committee then commenced deliberations in open session.
4. As to the records the AGRC states it has, and no evidence to the contrary presented, the AGRC has classified the requested records as "protected" under Section 63-2-304, and more particularly under the provisions of subsections -304(16), -304(17), -304(18), -304(9(a) and (e), and -304(22), and based its denial on that determination. Therefore, the threshold question before the Committee is whether that classification is proper. Upon considering the evidence and argument of the parties, the Records Committee finds that the AGRC has properly classified the subject records as "protected" records under Section 63-2-304, and more particularly pursuant to subsection -304(16) as work product of the State and County in anticipation of litigation.
5. The original GRAMA request made extensive request from AGRC for any and all records, data, or information relating in any way to R.S. 2477 rights-of-way in Emery County. With respect to the records AGRC has, access to records referenced in Items 1 through 11, inclusive, of the original GRAMA request is denied.
WHEREFORE, it is ordered that the appeal by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and the Wilderness Society is denied for the reasons set forth above.
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 (2004). 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 19th day of April 2005.
BY THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE
Patricia Smith-Mansfield, Chairperson
State Records Committee