State Records Committee Appeal Decision 2012-10
BEFORE THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE OF THE STATE OF UTAH
ALAN GRANT, Petitioner, vs.
UTAH DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, Respondent.
DECISION AND ORDER
Case No. 12-10
By this appeal, Petitioner, Alan Grant, seeks to appeal the denial of his records request for access to security/surveillance video footage from December 26, 2009.
On or about February 6, 2012, Mr. Grant made a records request pursuant to the Utah Government Records Access and Management Act (“GRAMA”) to the Utah Department of Corrections, (“UDC”). Mr. Grant wanted video surveillance footage of an assault against him by another inmate which occurred on December, 26, 2011. UDC’s Records Officer, Lisa Neilson denied Mr. Grant’s request on or about March 7, 2012, indicating that access to the security/surveillance footage was protected pursuant to Utah Code § 63G-2-305(12) because the information if disclosed, would jeopardize the security and/or safety of the correctional facility and would also interfere with the control and supervision of offenders.
Mr. Grant appealed the denial of his GRAMA request to Mike Haddon, Executive Coordinator for UDC on March 30, 2012. Mike Haddon responded to Mr. Grant on April 2, 2012, upholding the previous denial of his GRAMA request and re-affirming that the records sought by Mr. Grant were properly classified as “protected” pursuant to Utah Code § 63G-2-305(10) and (12).
Mr. Grant now appeals UDC’s denial of his GRAMA request to the State Records Committee (“Committee”). The Committee having reviewed the submissions of the parties and having heard oral argument and testimony on June 15, 2012, now issues the following Decision and Order.
STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR DECISION
1. GRAMA specifies that “all records are public unless otherwise expressly provided by statute.” Utah Code § 63G-2-201(2). Records that are not public are designated as either “private,” “protected,” or “controlled.” See, Utah Code §§ 63G-2-302, -303, -304 and -305.
2. Records that, if disclosed, would jeopardize the life or safety of an individual are protected if properly classified. See, Utah Code § 63G-2-305(10).
3. Records that, if disclosed, would jeopardize the security or safety of a correctional facility, or records relating to incarceration, treatment, probation, or parole, that would interfere with the control and supervision of an offender’s incarceration, treatment, probation or parole are protected if properly classified. See, Utah Code § 63G-2-305(12).
4. At the hearing, counsel for UDC argued that access to “security/surveillance” footage would disclose not only the location of various security cameras, but would also show the limitations of the cameras and any “blind” areas that were not accessible to the cameras, thereby putting at risk UDC’s ability to secure and control inmates at correctional facilities in Utah. UDC was concerned that if inmates could see what areas corrections staff were watching and where security was limited, they would circumvent the security measures jeopardizing the safety of staff and inmates. UDC further argued that the “protected” classification of security footage was proper pursuant to Utah Code §§ 63G-2-305(10) and (12).
5. Mr. Grant argued that he believed that there was a lack of security at the time he was attacked and UDC staff failed to prevent his attack or provide assistance in a timely manner after his attack. He further argued he needed the surveillance footage to establish a “timeline” of events and establish the duration of the incident.
6. After hearing the arguments of the parties, and having reviewed their submissions, the Committee finds that the records requested by Petitioner are properly classified as “protected” and access is restricted pursuant to Utah Code § 63G-2-305(10) and (12). The Committee is persuaded that the release of the surveillance footage would jeopardize the life and safety of inmates and staff at Utah Department of Corrections facilities and would also interfere with the control and supervision of an offender’s incarceration.
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED THAT the appeal of Petitioner, Alan Grant is hereby DENIED, pursuant to Utah Code § 63G-2-305 (10) and (12).
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 § 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.
Pursuant to Utah Code § 63G-2-403(14)(d), the government 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 26th day of June, 2012.
BY THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE
BETSY ROSS, Chairperson
State Records Committee