State Records Committee Appeal 2013-07
BEFORE THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE OF THE STATE OF UTAH
REGINALD WILLIAMS, Petitioner, vs.
UTAH DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, Respondent.
DECISION AND ORDER
Case No. 13-07
By this appeal, Petitioner, Reginald Williams, seeks access to documents from Respondent, the Utah Department of Corrections (“Corrections”). This appeal is a consolidation of several records requests made by Mr. Williams, and denials of those requests by Corrections.
On or about January 18, 2013, Mr. Williams requested Peace Officer Standards and Training (“POST”) records for seven former and current Corrections employees. Corrections denied the request finding that “[t]hese are not prison records.” Mr. Williams filed an appeal of the decision and in a letter dated March 12, 2013; the Acting Executive Director of Corrections wrote that further investigation found that the requested records were maintained by Corrections. Corrections later determined that these records were considered protected records pursuant to Utah Code § 63G-2-305(11) & (13).
In a document dated April 15, 2013, Mr. Williams filed a records request with Corrections for the “incident report (IR-1)” written regarding an incident occurring at the prison on April 13, 2013. The Division of Institutional Operations denied the request stating that the information was private or protected pursuant to Utah Code § 63G-2-302 & -305. Mr. Williams filed an appeal of the decision and in a letter dated May 13, 2013, the Deputy Director of Corrections denied the request finding the information contained in the IR-1 “is private and protected” pursuant to Utah Code § 63G-2-302(2) and -305(9).
In a letter dated July 7, 2013, Mr. Williams requested a consolidation of his appeals. The Utah State Records Committee (“Committee”) having reviewed the arguments submitted by the parties regarding the consolidated appeals, and having heard oral argument and testimony on August 8, 2013, now issues the following Decision and Order.
STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR DECISION
1. The Government Records Access and Management Act (“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. Utah Code § 63G-2-305 states that the following governmental records are considered protected records if they are properly classified by a governmental entity: (1) Records the disclosure of which would jeopardize the life or safety of an individual; and (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. See, Utah Code § 63G-2-305(11) & (13).
3. Corrections presented testimony at the hearing that release of POST training records for prison personnel could result in harm to persons and/or jeopardize the security or safety of the prison. Corrections argued that the disputed records were properly classified by Corrections to be protected records pursuant to Utah Code § 63G-2-305(11) & (13).
4. In Whiteman v. Utah Dept. of Corr., State Records Committee Decision No. 96-03 (June 20, 1996), the Committee previously held that Corrections’ classification of the information contained within the IR-1 form as protected “is justified and is consistent with GRAMA.” See also, Penman v. Utah Dept. of Corr., State Records Committee Decision No. 94-17 (Nov. 17, 1994).
5. After reviewing the arguments submitted by the parties, hearing oral arguments and testimony, and reviewing in camera the disputed POST records, the Committee finds that Corrections properly classified the records as protected records pursuant to Utah Code § 63G-2-305(11) & (13).
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED THAT the appeals of Petitioner, Reginald Williams are 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 19th day of August 2013,
BY THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE
LEX HEMPHILL, Chairperson
State Records Committee