Utah Department of Administrative Services

Division of Archives & Records Service

State Records Committee Appeal Decision 2009-01

BEFORE THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE OF THE STATE OF UTAH

HILARIE ORMAN, SPANISH FORK NEWS, Petitioner, vs.

UTAH COUNTY, Respondent.

DECISION AND ORDER

Case No. 09-01

By this appeal, Petitioner, Hilarie Orman, a staff writer for the Spanish Fork News, seeks access to initial contact reports from the Utah County Sheriff's Office concerning a reported trespass on September 21, 2008 and a motorcycle accident on April 29, 2008.

FACTS

On September 30, 2008, Ms. Orman made a request for “incident reports” from the Utah County Sheriff's Office pursuant to the Utah Government Records Access and Management Act (“GRAMA”). Ms. Orman stated that she was a reporter for the Spanish Fork News and needed the information for a story on city crime. Deputy Utah County Attorney Dianne Orcutt, denied Ms. Orman's requests on October 2, 2008, finding that the requested records were protected under GRAMA. On October 13, 2008, Ms. Orman appealed the denials to the Utah County Commissioners. The Utah County Commissioners reviewed the appeal and found the information requested was properly classified under GRAMA as “protected.”

On January 7, 2009, Ms. Orman appealed the Utah County Commissioners' decision to uphold the denial to the Utah State Records Committee (“Committee”). Having reviewed the materials submitted by the parties and having heard oral argument and testimony on February 12, 2009, the Committee now issues the following Decision and Order.

STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR DECISION

1. The Government Records Access and Management Act (“GRAMA”) specifies “all records are public unless otherwise expressly provided by statute.” Utah Code Ann. § 63G-2-201(2). Records that are not public are designated as either “private,” “protected,” or “controlled.” See, Utah Code Ann. §§ 63G-2-302, -303 and -304.

2. “Initial contact report” means an initial written or recorded report, however titled, prepared by peace officers engaged in public patrol or response duties describing official actions initially taken in response to either a public complaint about or the discovery of an apparent violation of law. Utah Code Ann. § 63G-2-103(14)(a). The details of what is often contained in an “initial contact report” are listed in Utah Code Ann. § 63G-2-103(14)(a)(i-vi).

3. Pursuant to Utah Code Ann. § 63G-2-301(3)(g), “initial contact reports” are normally public subject to the exemptions to disclosure under Utah Code Ann. §§ 63G-2-201(3)(b), 63G-2-302, 63G-2-304, or 63G-2-305.

4. During the hearing, Ms. Orman clarified that she was interested in “initial contact reports” as opposed to “incident reports,” which could include protected “police reports.” Ms. Orcutt, representing Respondent Utah County, stated that she believed that Ms. Orman’s requests for “incident reports” were actually requests for protected “police reports.”

5. The Committee, having heard argument from both parties finds that once it was made clear that Ms. Orman was requesting “initial contact reports” which are normally public subject to the restrictions found in GRAMA, finds that Ms. Orman’s request for initial contact reports for the reported trespass on September 21, 2008, and the motorcycle accident on April 29, 2008, should be granted.

ORDER

THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED THAT Respondent Utah County provide Hilarie Orman with the requested initial contact reports pursuant to Utah Code Ann. § 63G-2-301(3)(g).

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. § 63G-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.

PENALTY NOTICE

Pursuant to Utah Code Ann. § 63G-2-403(14)(d), the governmental entity herein shall comply with the order of the Committee and, if records are ordered to be produced, file: (1) a notice of compliance with the records committee upon production of the records; or (2) a notice of intent to appeal. If the government entity fails to file a notice of compliance or a notice of intent to appeal, the Committee may do either or both of the following: (1) impose a civil penalty of up to $500 for each day of continuing noncompliance; or (2) send written notice of the entity's noncompliance to the Governor for executive branch entities, to the Legislative Management Committee for legislative branch entities, and to the Judicial Council for judicial branch agencies entities.

Entered this 19th day of February 2009.

BY THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE

____________________________________
SCOTT WHITTAKER, Chairperson
State Records Committee