State Records Committee Appeal Decision 2012-25
BEFORE THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE OF THE STATE OF UTAH
ROBERT BAKER, Petitioner, vs.
UTAH DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, Respondent.
DECISION AND ORDER
Case No. 12-25
By this appeal, Petitioner, Robert Baker seeks to appeal the denial of his request for records to the Utah Department of Corrections (“Corrections”).
On or about June 16, 2012, Mr. Baker submitted a request for records pursuant to the Utah Government Records Access and Management Act (“GRAMA”) to Corrections. Mr. Baker requested a copy of Corrections’ TMF06, Medical Operations Manual. On July 3, 2012, Corrections’ Records Officer denied access to the manual indicating it had been classified as “protected” pursuant to Utah Code §§ 63G-2-305(10) & (12). Mr. Baker filed an appeal to Corrections’ Executive Coordinator Mike Haddon. On August 1, 2012, Mr. Haddon upheld the previous denial of access and affirmed the manual’s classification as “protected.”
Petitioner, Robert Baker, now appeals Corrections’ denial of his GRAMA request for the TMF06, Medical Operations Manual to the State Records Committee (“Committee”). The Committee having reviewed the submissions of the parties and having heard oral argument and testimony on December 13, 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 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 records if properly classified. Utah Code § 63G-2-305(12).
3. Mr. Baker argued that he suffers from various ailments/medical conditions and as an inmate housed by Corrections, he is a ward of the State entitled to certain medical treatment. Mr. Baker believes he is not receiving all medical care to which he is entitled, and claims that the manual could assist him in determining his medical benefits as an inmate. Mr. Baker also claimed that the manual was already a public document because it had been released as an exhibit in a Federal Court Case. Finally, Mr. Baker argued that even if the manual contained protected information, the manual could be redacted to protect the sensitive and/or security information contained within the manual.
4. In its brief and at the hearing, Counsel for Corrections stated that the TMF06, Medical Operations Manual was a 200 page document containing step-by-step instructions to correctional officers and medical staff which included sensitive security issues. Examples cited included:
a. Safety measures governing transportation and detention of inmates before, during and after medical treatment.
b. Specific security measures governing the clinical services section of the prison.
c. Safety measures governing emergency medical care to inmates and visitors.
Various other examples were also cited by Corrections and testimony was proffered that the release of such information would have a devastating effect on Corrections’ ability to maintain the safety and security of its correctional institutions.
5. Corrections stated that the Federal Court Case Mr. Baker was relying upon was 24 years old, and that it could not be determined based upon their research and the evidence provided by Mr. Baker, whether the manual had in fact been provided as an exhibit. Corrections contended that regardless of any stipulation in the cited court case, it has an obligation to review and classify the manual at the time it receives a records request. Corrections agreed that the non-public information could be redacted from the manual, but added that such a redaction would leave the manual un-intelligible, and would not contain the information Mr. Baker was seeking.
6. After hearing the arguments of the parties and reviewing their submissions including an in camera review of the TMF06, Medical Operations Manual, the Committee finds that Corrections’ primary classification of the manual as “protected” is appropriate pursuant to Utah Code § 63G-2-305(12). The Committee also finds that a secondary classification of “public” is appropriate for any material contained within the manual that is not related to, or consists of security/sensitive information (See, Utah Code § 63G-2-305(12)). For example, the “table of contents” of the manual does not contain sensitive or security protocol information, and is therefore public. Accordingly, the Committee is convinced the table of contents should be released to Mr. Baker. Further, if after Mr. Baker reviews the table of contents and makes further requests for information from the manual, Corrections has the discretion to redact any information determined to be “non-public.”
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED THAT the appeal of Petitioner, Robert Baker is UPHELD as to the “table of contents” and any other public information contained within the TMF06, Medical Operations Manual. Corrections shall immediately release the table of contents to Petitioner as outlined 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 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 24th day of December 2012.
BY THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE
BETSY ROSS, Chairperson
State Records Committee