State Records Committee Appeal 2013-17
BEFORE THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE OF THE STATE OF UTAH
DAMON CRIST, Petitioner, vs.
UTAH DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, Respondent.
DECISION AND ORDER
Case No. 13-17
By this appeal, Petitioner, Damon Crist, seeks access to records from Respondent, the Utah Department of Corrections (“Corrections”).
On September 23, 2013, Mr. Crist filed a records request pursuant to the Utah Government Records Access and Management Act (“GRAMA”) with Corrections for all disciplinary records of a doctor employed by Corrections working in the Medical Unit of the Draper Prison. Corrections rejected the request stating that Corrections did not maintain the requested records. In a letter dated October 3, 2013, Mr. Crist filed an appeal with Corrections. Responding to the appeal, the Deputy Director for Corrections stated in a letter dated October 29, 2013, that the requested records had been found, but they would not be released to Mr. Crist because they had been classified as protected records pursuant to Utah Code § 63G-2-305(11) & (13).
Mr. Crist now appeals the denial of his request for records to the State Records Committee (“Committee”). The Committee having reviewed the arguments submitted by the parties and having heard oral argument and testimony, 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 disclosing information relating to formal charges or disciplinary actions against a past or present governmental entity employee are normally public if: (1) the disciplinary action has been completed and all time periods for administrative appeal have expired; (2) the charges on which the disciplinary action was based were sustained; and (3) access is not expressly exempt from disclosure under Utah Code §§ 63G-2-201(3)(b), -302, -304, or -305. Utah Code § 63G-2-301(3)(o).
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 records if properly classified by a governmental entity. Utah Code § 63G-2-305(13). Similarly, records the disclosure of which would jeopardize the life or safety of an individual, are protected records if properly classified by a governmental entity. Utah Code § 63G-2-305(11).
4. Corrections argued that records of a medical doctor treating prison inmates should be protected records because the release of those records would jeopardize the life and safety of Corrections employees and other individuals. Testimony was provided by a nursing director with Corrections who testified concerning procedures used to treat prison inmates including restrictions on releasing information to inmates. Testimony was also provided by the Deputy Warden for the Draper Prison, who stated that potential harm could occur against the doctor for whom the records were being requested if the records were released.
5. After reviewing the arguments submitted by the parties, hearing oral arguments and testimony, the Committee finds that the disciplinary records for the prison doctor were properly classified as a protected record pursuant to Utah Code § 63G-2-305(11) and (13).
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED THAT the appeal of Petitioner, Damon Crist 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 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 23rd day of December 2013,
BY THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE
LEX HEMPHILL, Chairperson
State Records Committee