State Records Committee Appeal Decision 2014-12
BEFORE THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE OF THE STATE OF UTAH
RAYMOND PAYNE, Petitioner, v.
UTAH DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, Respondent.
DECISION AND ORDER
Case No. 14-12
By this appeal, Petitioner, Raymond Payne, seeks a fee waiver for copies of records held by Respondent, the Utah Department of Corrections (“Corrections”).
In a letter dated April 10, 2014, Mr. Payne, an inmate housed in the Central Utah Correctional Facility, made a request with Respondent for a copy of Corrections’ Policy FD01 Offender Discipline Procedures. In his request, Mr. Payne stated that he is indigent and requested that Corrections waive the fees for the record. In a letter dated April 11, 2014, Gina Proctor, an employee with Corrections, responded to Mr. Payne and denied his request, citing Utah Code § 63G-2-201(8)(a)(v)(A), which states that a governmental entity is not required to fill a person’s request if the record requested is “accessible in the identical physical form and content in a public publication or product produced by the governmental entity receiving the request,” and informed him that he can view the records which are located in the Inmate Reference Library (“IRL”). The IRL is a collection of Corrections’ policies, a copy of which is kept in every housing block of the Utah State Prison and the Central Utah Correctional Facility.
On April 16, 2014, Mr. Payne appealed the denial to Corrections’ Deputy Director, Mike Haddon. On April 18, 2014, Deputy Director Haddon affirmed the denial of Mr. Payne’s request, citing Utah Code § 63G-2-201(8)(a)(v)(A). On April 21, 2014, Mr. Payne reviewed Corrections’ Policy FD01 in his housing block. Mr. Payne wrote a second letter to Deputy Director Haddon confirming that he viewed the policy, but stated “I am allowed 100 pages of paper copied by the Dept. per year, so far I only have 23.” On May 9, 2014, Deputy Director Haddon denied Mr. Payne’s request for a free personal copy because the policy could be found in the IRL.
Mr. Payne filed an appeal with the State Records Committee (“Committee”) pursuant to Utah Code § 63G-2-403(1). The Committee having reviewed the arguments submitted by the parties and having heard oral argument and testimony on July 10, 2014, now issues the following Decision and Order.
STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR DECISION
1. The Government Records Access and Management Act (“GRAMA”) specifies that every person has the right to inspect a public record free of charge, and the right to take a copy of a public record during normal working hours subject to Utah Code §§ 63G-2-201(1), 63G-2-203, and 63G-2-204.
2. In response to a records request, a governmental entity is not required to fill a person’s request if the record requested is accessible in the identical physical form and content in a public publication or product produced by the governmental entity receiving the request. Utah Code §63G-2-201(8)(a)(v)(A).
3. A governmental entity “may fulfill a record request without charge” and is encouraged to do so when it determines that: (1) Releasing the record primarily benefits the public rather than a person; (2) The individual requesting the record is the subject of the record, or an individual specified in Subsection 63G-2-202(1) or (2); or (3) The requester’s legal rights are directly implicated by the information in the record, and the requester is impecunious. Utah Code § 63G-2-203(4)(a-c).
4. Counsel for Corrections argued that one of the purposes of the IRL was to make policies similar to the requested record available to prison inmates, and that there would be a great cost to Corrections if every inmate was allowed to have a free personal copy of policies that were already accessible to them from the library.
5. After reviewing the arguments submitted by the parties, and hearing oral arguments and testimony, the Committee finds that Mr. Payne failed to prove that he is entitled to a fee waiver pursuant to Utah Code § 63G-2-203(4). Mr. Payne did not demonstrate that his legal rights were directly implicated by the information in the record, Corrections has the discretion to deny his fee waiver request, and Mr. Payne is not unfairly prejudiced with the denial because he still has the ability to view the documents in the IRL.
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED THAT the appeal of Petitioner, Raymond Payne, 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 18th day of July 2014.
BY THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE
LEX HEMPHILL, Chairperson
State Records Committee