State Records Committee Appeal Decision 2018-12
BEFORE THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE OF THE STATE OF UTAH
SCOTT GOLLAHER, Petitioner, v.
MORGAN COUNTY ATTORNEY’S OFFICE, Respondent.
DECISION AND ORDER
Case No. 18-12
By this appeal, Petitioner, Scott Gollaher, seeks access to records allegedly held by Respondent, the Morgan County Attorney’s Office.
On or about November 28, 2017, Mr. Gollaher made a records request to the Morgan County Attorney’s Office ("Respondent"), pursuant to the Government Records Access and Management Act (“GRAMA”). Mr. Gollaher requested copies, bills or payments made to his appellant council, Ron Fujino or Bryan Baron.
On or about December 5, 2017, Respondent denied Mr. Gollaher’s request, and on or about January 1, 2018, Mr. Gollaher appealed the denial to the Morgan County Chief Administrator. The denial was upheld and thereafter, Mr. Gollaher 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 March 8, 2018, now issues the following Decision and Order.
STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR DECISION
1. In response to a records request, a governmental entity is not required to create a record. Utah Code § 63G-2-201(8)(a)(i). The governmental entity is also not required to provide a record in a particular format, medium, or program not currently maintained by the governmental entity. Utah Code § 63G-2-201(8)(a)(iii). Additionally, the Committee cannot order a governmental entity to disclose a record that it does not possess. See, Utah Code § 63G-2-403(12) & Utah Admin. Code R 35-2-2(2).
2. In the present case, counsel for Respondent indicated that the Morgan County Attorney’s Office is not in possession of any record that is responsive to Mr. Gollaher’s November 28, 2017 GRAMA request.
3. Accordingly, after reviewing the arguments submitted by the parties, hearing oral argument and the testimony of Mr. Gollaher, and based upon the evidence that was presented, the Committee finds insufficient evidence to show that Respondent possesses the records responsive to Mr. Gollaher’s November 28, 2017 GRAMA request.
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED THAT the appeal of Petitioner, Scott Gollaher, 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 19th day of March 2018.
BY THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE
DAVID FLEMING, Chairperson
State Records Committee
Page Last Updated April 11, 2018 .