State Records Committee Appeal Decision 2018-58
BEFORE THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE OF THE STATE OF UTAH
BRADY EAMES, Petitioner, v.
TREMONTON CITY, Respondent.
DECISION AND ORDER
Case No. 18-58
By this appeal, Petitioner, Brady Eames, seeks access to records allegedly held by Respondent, Tremonton City.
According to Mr. Eames, on or about September 10, 2018, Mr. Eames made a records request to Tremonton City ("Respondent"), pursuant to the Government Records Access and Management Act (“GRAMA”). Mr. Eames requested “to access and inspect certain opinions, interpretations and correspondences regarding penal bonds executed and filed by certain persons elected or appointed as certain officers…”
On or about September 24, 2018, after receiving no response from the Respondent, Mr. Eames filed an appeal to the person he believed was the Chief Administrative Officer. Again, no response was provided by the Respondent, and Mr. Eames filed an appeal with the State Records Committee (“Committee”). After hearing oral argument and testimony from all the parties on December 13, 2018, and carefully considering the requested relief of the parties, the Committee 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. Additionally, records “to which access is restricted pursuant to court rule, another state statute, federal statute, or federal regulation,” are also considered non-public records. Utah Code § 63G-2-201(3)(b).
2. The chief administrative officer of each governmental entity shall “make and maintain adequate and proper documentation of the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, and essential transactions of the governmental entity designed to furnish information to protect the legal and financial rights of persons directly affected by the entity’s activities.” Utah Code § 63A-12-103(4).
3. After having reviewed all written arguments and hearing testimony presented, the Committee finds that opinions and final interpretations are public records and that the Respondent shall provide Mr. Eames with all records of such, if available.
4. Additionally, if there is any correspondence related to the above, the Respondent has an obligation to classify such records, and provide Mr. Eames with all public correspondences. If any records are classified as restricted, the Respondent shall provide reasons and/or citations as to why said records are restricted.
5. If the Respondent does not have any records available that are responsive to Mr. Eames’ request, the Respondent shall formally indicate that they don’t have any responsive records.
6. The Committee finds that the Respondent has provided the ordinances. The Committee counsels Respondent to work with Mr. Eames to clarify on what specific records are being requested beyond the ordinances.
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED THAT the appeal of Petitioner, Brady Eames is GRANTED.
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. Utah Code § 63G-2-403(15)(d)(i)(B). 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 22nd day of December 2018
BY THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE
DAVID FLEMING, Chairperson
State Records Committee
Page Last Updated January 3, 2019 .