Utah Department of Administrative Services

Division of Archives & Records Service

State Records Committee Appeal 07-01

BEFORE THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE OF THE STATE OF UTAH

ELIZABETH NEFF, SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, Petitioner, vs.

BEAVER COUNTY, Respondent.

DECISION AND ORDER

Case No. 07-01

By this appeal, Elizabeth Neff, in her capacity as an employee of the Salt Lake Tribune, seeks access to records of Beaver County Sheriff's Department including records and reports regarding Grace S. and Robert Gerald Erno. The State Records Committee, having reviewed the materials submitted by the parties, and having heard oral argument and testimony on January 11, 2007, now issues the following Decision and Order.

STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR DECISION

The Government Records Access and Management Act ("GRAMA") specifies that "all records are public unless otherwise expressly provided by statute." Utah Code Ann. 63-2-201(2). Records that are not public are designated as either "private," "protected," or "controlled." See Utah Code Ann. 63-2-302, -303 and -304. The Beaver County and the Beaver County Sheriff's Department denied Elizabeth Neff/Salt Lake Tribune the records and reports she seeks on the grounds that said reports and records are "private".

The Committee is not persuaded, in this instance, the records are private. The Committee is also not persuaded the deceased subject(s) of the records have an expectation or are entitled to privacy per 3-2-302(d). The committee does find the records are incorrectly classified. The records should have two classifications: "protected" per 63-2-304(9)(d) and (e), and "exempt" per 63-2-201(6)(a). It appears that the protected and exempt information can be segregated and redacted to allow access to the balance of the records pursuant to Utah Code Annotated 63-2-307.

The Committee notes that a specific statute (Utah Code Ann. 41-1a-116) governs the release of driver's license and motor vehicle registration information. These records are therefore exempt from classification and disclosure under GRAMA pursuant to Utah Code Annotated 63-2-201(6)(a).
The Beaver County Sheriff's Department has therefore improperly classified the records in question as "private" under Utah Code Ann. 63-2-302(d).

ORDER

THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED THAT the appeal of Elizabeth Neff is granted in part. Petitioner is granted access to the report, however respondent shall redact access to records that reasonably could be expected to disclose the identity of a source who is not generally known outside of government or disclose information furnished by a source not generally known outside of government or that reasonably could be expected to disclose investigative or audit techniques, procedures, policies, or orders not generally known outside of government pursuant to Utah Code Annotated 63-2-304(9)(d) and (e). Driver's license information and other motor vehicle information is governed by separate statue and is exempt per 63-2-201(6)(a). All other information not protected or exempt is to be provided to the petitioner.

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 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 17th day of January, 2007.

BY THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE

Patricia Smith-Mansfield,
Chairperson
State Records Committee