State Records Committee Appeal Decision 2018-62
BEFORE THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE OF THE STATE OF UTAH
LYLE FLETCHER, Petitioner, v.
UTAH COUNTY Respondent.
DECISION AND ORDER
Case No. 18-62
By this appeal, Petitioner, Lyle Fletcher, seeks access to records allegedly held by Respondent, Utah County.
On or about September 4, 2018, Mr. Fletcher made a records request to Utah County ("Respondent"), pursuant to the Government Records Access and Management Act (“GRAMA”). Mr. Fletcher requested a number of records relating to a specific criminal case.
On September 7, 2018, Respondent provided Mr. Fletcher a list of available records as well as excluded records that were classified as private, protected or controlled, along with the cost for providing said records. After receiving payment of the fee applicable to the records being provided, and Mr. Fletcher’s additional request for the entirety of the records, including any private, protected or controlled records, Respondent provided all records available with the exception of the private, protected or controlled records.
On or about September 21, 2018, Mr. Fletcher appealed the denial of the private, protected or controlled records to the Utah County Commission. After a hearing was held regarding the request, the Utah County Board of Commissioners (“Board”) granted the release of certain records and upheld the non-public classification to the other records. The Board further granted a reimbursement of the full fee amount paid by Mr. Fletcher.
Mr. Fletcher filed an appeal with the State Records Committee (“Committee”) regarding the denial of the 13 remaining private, protected or controlled records. 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 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-2-203 & -204. Utah Code § 63G-2-201(1). “[A]ll 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, a record to which access is restricted pursuant to court rule, another state statute, federal statute, or federal regulation, are not public records. Utah Code § 63G-2-201(3)(b).
2. Document A is a July 6, 1994 Presentence Investigation Report. Pursuant to Utah Code § 77-18-1(5)(c), the contents of a presentence investigation report are protected and are not available except by court order for purposes of sentencing as provided by rule of the Judicial Council or for use by the Department of Corrections. The Committee finds that Document A was properly classified as a non-public protected record pursuant to Utah Code § 77-18-1(5)(c).
3. Documents B & C are a Pediatric Medical Examination Report and an evaluation letter from a physician. A record is a controlled record if: (1) The record contains medical, psychiatric, or psychological data about an individual; (2) The governmental entity reasonably believes that releasing the information in the record to the subject of the record would be detrimental to the subject’s mental health or to the safety of any individual, or releasing the information would constitute a violation of normal professional practice and medical ethics; and (3) The governmental entity has properly classified the record. Utah Code § 63G-2-304. The Committee finds that Documents B & C were properly classified as non-public controlled records pursuant to Utah Code § 63G-2-304.
4. Document D consist of transcripts of CJC interviews. Pursuant to Utah Code § 63G-2-103(22)(b)(xv), a transcript of a video or audio recording conducted by the CJC is excluded from the definition of a record by GRAMA. Accordingly, the Committee finds that Mr. Fletcher may not receive a copy of Document D because it is not a record under GRAMA.
5. Documents E through L have been classified by Respondent as protected records pursuant to Utah Code § 63G-2-305(18). Records prepared for or by an attorney, consultant, surety, indemnitor, insurer, employee, or agent of a governmental entity for, or in anticipation of, litigation or a judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative proceeding, are protected records if properly classified by a governmental entity. Id. After having reviewed these records in camera, the Committee finds that they were properly classified as non-public protected records pursuant to Utah Code § 63G-2-305(18).
6. Document M is a letter from the victim’s father containing intimate details of his family and according to Respondent, contained details “never intended for Mr. Fletcher.” Respondent argued that release of the letter would be an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy pursuant to Utah Code § 63G-2-302(2)(d). After having reviewed Document M in camera, the Committee agrees with Respondent’s classification and finds that it was properly classified as a non-public private record pursuant to Utah Code § 63G-2-302(2)(d).
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED THAT the appeal of Petitioner, Lyle Fletcher 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. 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 .