State Records Committee Appeal Decision 2019-24
BEFORE THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE OF THE STATE OF UTAH
OZWALD BALFOUR, Petitioner, v.
UTAH DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, Respondent.
DECISION AND ORDER
Case No. 19-24
By this appeal, Petitioner, Ozwald Balfour, seeks access to records held by Respondent, Utah Department of Corrections (“Corrections”).
On or about April 12, 2019, Corrections received Mr. Balfour’s request for records pursuant to the Government Records Access and Management Act (“GRAMA”). Mr. Balfour requested records relating to himself including notes, assessments, reports, case action plans, post-conviction reports, and communications.
On or about April 12, 2019, Corrections granted in part Mr. Balfour’s request, but denied his request for F-track and O-track records because it was “too vague.” On May 2, 2019, Mr. Balfour submitted a revised request and a second denial was sent to Mr. Balfour indicating that O-track “has many, many documents from many departments” requiring Mr. Balfour to be more specific.
On June 6, 2019, Mr. Balfour appealed the denial. Corrections’ Deputy Director James Hudspeth, denied Mr. Balfour’s appeal finding that the request lacked specificity. Thereafter, Mr. Balfour filed an appeal with the State Records Committee (“Committee”). After hearing oral argument and testimony on August 8, 2019, carefully considering the requested relief of the parties, the Committee issues the following Decision and Order.
STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR DECISION
1. A person making a request for a record shall furnish the governmental entity with a written request containing a description of the record requested that identifies the record with “reasonable specificity.” Utah Code § 63G-2-204(1)(b) (2018).
2. After having reviewed the written and oral arguments of the parties, the Committee finds that Mr. Balfour’s request lacked reasonable specificity. The Committee agrees with Corrections’ argument that the request is for all records contained in multiple databases, does not sufficiently specify which record he is requesting, and without a more specific description of his records, Corrections cannot fulfill his request.
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED THAT the appeal of Petitioner, Ozwald Balfour, is hereby 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 19th day of August 2019
BY THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE
TOM HARALDSEN, Chairperson
State Records Committee
Page Last Updated August 20, 2019 .