State Records Committee Appeal Decision 2018-07
BEFORE THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE OF THE STATE OF UTAH
ERIC PETERSON on behalf of THE UTAH INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM PROJECT, Petitioner, v.
SALT LAKE CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT, Respondent.
DECISION AND ORDER
Case No. 18-07
By this appeal, Petitioner, Eric Peterson, on behalf of The Utah Investigative Journalism Project, seeks access to records held by Respondent, Salt Lake City Police Department.
On or about September 6, 2017, Petitioner made a request for records pursuant to the Government Records Access and Management Act (“GRAMA”). Petitioner requested, “[u]nredacted copies of reports previously provided to [Petitioner] regarding [a] cold case investigation of [a specific person and case number] …”
On September 21, 2017, Respondent issued a denial for the redacted portions. Petitioner appealed the denial to the Chief Administration Officer (“CAO”), and on September 28, 2017, the CAO upheld the denial.
Petitioner filed an appeal with the State Records Committee (“Committee”). The Committee having reviewed the arguments submitted by the parties and having heard oral argument and testimony on February 8, 2018, 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. Records created or maintained for civil, criminal, or administrative enforcement purposes or audit purposes, or for discipline, licensing, certification, or registration purposes, are properly classified protected records by a governmental entity if release of the records reasonably could be expected to interfere with investigations undertaken for enforcement, discipline, licensing, certification, or registration purposes. See Utah Code § 63G-2-305(10)(a).
3. After having reviewed the written and oral arguments of the parties, and having reviewed the records in camera, the Committee finds that Respondent properly classified the records as protected records pursuant to Utah Code § 63G-2-305(10)(a).
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED THAT the appeal of Petitioner, Eric Peterson, on behalf of The Utah Investigative Journalism Project, is DENIED.
RIGHT TO APPEAL
A party to a proceeding before the Committee may seek judicial review in District Court of a Committee's Order by filing a petition for review of the Committee Order as provided in Utah Code § 63G-2-404. Utah Code § 63G-2-403(14). A petition for judicial review of a Committee Order "shall be filed no later than 30 days" after the date of the Committee Order. Utah Code § 63G-2-404(1)(a). The petition for judicial review must be a complaint which is governed by the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure, and include the Committee as a necessary party and contain the required information listed in Subsection -404(2). Utah Code § 63G-2-404(1) & (2). The court shall make its decision de novo, but shall allow introduction of evidence presented to the Committee, determine all questions of fact and law without a jury, and decide the issue at the earliest practical opportunity. Utah Code § 63G-2-404(6). In order to protect a parties’ rights on appeal, a party may wish to seek advice from an attorney.
Pursuant to Utah Code § 63G-2-403(15)(c), if the Committee orders the governmental entity to produce a record and no appeal is filed, the government entity herein shall comply with the order of the Committee and shall: (1) Produce the record; and (2) File a notice of compliance with the Committee. If the governmental entity ordered to produce a record 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. Utah Code § 63G-2-403(15)(d)(i). In imposing a civil penalty, the Committee shall consider the gravity and circumstances of the violation, including whether the failure to comply was due to neglect or was willful or intentional. Utah Code § 63G-2-403(15)(d)(ii).
Entered this 20th day of February 2018.
BY THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE
DAVID FLEMING, Chairperson
State Records Committee
Page Last Updated February 21, 2018 .