State Records Committee Appeal Decision 2020-09
BEFORE THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE OF THE STATE OF UTAH
PAUL AMANN, Petitioner, v.
UNIFIED POLICE DEPARTMENT OF GREATER SALT LAKE. Respondent.
DECISION AND ORDER
Case No. 20-09
By this appeal, Petitioner, Paul Amann, seeks to have access to records allegedly held by Respondent, the Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake.
On or about October 30, 2019, Mr. Amann submitted a records request to Respondent pursuant to the Government Records Access and Management Act (“GRAMA”). Mr. Amann requested all records of communications regarding a specified report of Respondent and all records or communications to and from the Utah Attorney General’s Office (“AG’s Office”) regarding the report. Mr. Amann also included the names of two specific individuals at the AG’s Office regarding the requested communications. No response was provided by Respondent to Mr. Amann’s records request, so in a letter dated November 21, 2019, Mr. Amann filed an appeal with the Chief Administrative Officer for Respondent.
After no response had been received by Mr. Amann from Respondent regarding his appeal to the Chief Administrative Officer, Mr. Amann filed an appeal on December 11, 2019 with the State Records Committee (“Committee”). After hearing oral argument and testimony on January 9, 2020, and carefully considering the requested relief of the parties, the Committee issues the following Decision and Order.
STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR DECISION
1. GRAMA specifies a person has the right to inspect a public record free of charge, and a right to take a copy of a public record during normal working hours subject to Utah Code §§ 63G-2-203, and -204.
2. Legal counsel for Respondent stated during the hearing that he believed Respondent’s search of its records was “thorough and came up with nothing” responsive to Mr. Amann’s records request, but Respondent was willing to do another search for records and then if any records are found, provide them to Mr. Amann. Counsel further stated that Respondent would be willing to provide a Notice of Compliance with documentation that after a thorough search, any and all responsive records have been provided to Mr. Amann.
3. Accordingly, the Committee finds that it is appropriate to issue an Order to require Respondent to conduct a thorough records search to determine whether or not all responsive records have been provided to Mr. Amann, and if any public records are found, provide them to Mr. Amann as provided in GRAMA.
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED THAT the appeal of Petitioner, Paul Amann, 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 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 21st day of January 2020.
BY THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE
TOM HARALDSEN, Chair
State Records Committee
Page Last Updated January 21, 2020 .