State Records Committee Appeal Decision 2019-31
BEFORE THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE OF THE STATE OF UTAH
PATRICK SULLIVAN, Petitioner, v.
UTAH DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS. Respondent.
DECISION AND ORDER
Case No. 19-31
By this appeal, Petitioner, Patrick Sullivan, seeks access to records allegedly held by Respondent, the Utah Department of Corrections.
On May 17, 2019, Mr. Sullivan made a records request to the Utah Department of Corrections ("Corrections"), pursuant to the Government Records Access and Management Act (“GRAMA”). Mr. Sullivan requested, “1. List (index, glossary, table of contents) for all files, documents, reports, etc. stored in LEB track for [two specific case numbers]. 2. Investigative Report, Addendum and Attachments for [a specific case number].” On May 22, 2019, Corrections received an additional request from Mr. Sullivan for “[a]ll records (video, audio recordings, pictures, files, reports, etc.) related to [a specific case number].”
After no response was received from Corrections, Mr. Sullivan filed an appeal to Corrections’ Chief Administrative Officer in a letter dated June 12, 2019. On July 10, 2019, Mr. Sullivan filed an appeal with the State Records Committee (“Committee”) stating that Corrections’ failure to respond was the equivalent to a denial pursuant to Utah Code § 63G-2-401(5)(b)(i). The Committee, having reviewed the arguments submitted by the parties and having heard oral argument and testimony on September 12, 2019, now issues the following Decision and Order.
STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR DECISION
1. 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.”
2. “A governmental entity is not required to fulfill a person's records request if the request unreasonably duplicates prior records requests from that person…” Utah Code § 63G-2-201(8)(d).
3. Counsel for Corrections argued that Mr. Sullivan’s records request unreasonably duplicated a prior records request from Mr. Sullivan, and therefore, Corrections was not required to fulfill the records request.
4. After having reviewed the written arguments of the parties and considering all evidence presented at the hearing, the Committee finds that Corrections was not required to fulfill Mr. Sullivan’s records request because the request unreasonably duplicated a previous records request. See, Utah Code § 63G-2-201(8).
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED THAT the appeal of Petitioner, Patrick Sullivan, 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 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 23rd day of September 2019.
BY THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE
TOM HARALDSEN, Chair
State Records Committee
Page Last Updated September 23, 2019 .