State Records Committee Appeal 05-09
BEFORE THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE OF THE STATE OF UTAH
PAUL PAYNE, Petitioner,
UTAH DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, Respondent.
DECISION AND ORDERCase No. 05-09
By this appeal, inmate Paul Payne seeks access to "a copy of the Uinta 1 Inmate Roster for the date of 8-4-05." Mr. Payne represented himself and appeared by teleconference. Program Coordinator Edward Kingsford represented the Department of Corrections ("Corrections"). The State Records Committee, having reviewed the materials submitted by the parties, and having heard oral argument and testimony on December 8, 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 "record is public unless otherwise expressly provided by statute." Utah Code Ann. Section 63-2-201(2) (West Supp. 2005). Records that are not public are designated as either "private," "protected," or "controlled." Utah Code Ann. 63-2-302, -303 and -304.
2. Corrections denied Mr. Payne's request on the basis that the requested record was protected under Utah Code Ann. 63-2-304(10) and -(12). Mr. Payne contends that Corrections must disclose all or part of the roster to him as public record. Mr. Payne alleges further that the safety and security grounds asserted by Corrections, as a basis for protection, are false.
3. The Committee finds that Corrections properly denied access to the roster. The Committee heard testimony indicating that disclosing this information would jeopardize both the safety of individuals in the prison and the security of the Uinta I facility. The Committee found this testimony persuasive and, based on this evidence, the Committee concludes the classification of this information as protected is correct. Utah Code Ann. 63-2-304(10) and -(12).
4. It was noted during the hearing that one of our early decisions, Remine v. Corrections, Case No. 94-08, allowed limited access to a list of inmates in the Uinta II facility over a one year period of time. Specifically, the Committee held: "The classification of those records as 'protected' . . . is confirmed, but the Committee concludes that the public interest favoring the indicated access under the facts of this case outweighs the interest favoring restriction of access. See Utah Code Ann. 63-2-403(11)(b) (Supp. 1993).
5. In this instance, however, we believe that giving Mr. Payne access to a roster of the Uinta I facility's unique population on a particular day is likely to create serious security and safety problems for prison staff and others. In addition, the Committee acknowledged there are other avenues through which Mr. Payne can access the records without posing a risk to the prison's security, such as through an attorney or through the private organization he claims is interested in this information. If this information were sent to Mr. Payne by a third party, it is our understanding that it would be confiscated as contraband under existing prison policies and procedures. This opinion does not address that issue and is not intended to supersede or interfere with those policies and procedures.
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED THAT Mr. Payne's appeal is denied.
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 12th day of December, 2005.
BY THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE
Patricia Smith-Mansfield, Chairperson
State Records Committee