State Records Committee Appeal Decision 2020-21
BEFORE THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE OF THE STATE OF UTAH
SCOTT GOLLAHER, Petitioner, v.
MORGAN COUNTY Respondent.
DECISION AND ORDER
Case No. 20-21
By this appeal, Petitioner, Scott Gollaher, seeks access to records allegedly held by Respondent, Morgan County.
On December 12, 2019, Mr. Gollaher made a records request to the Morgan County Government Records Access and Management Act (“GRAMA”) Specialist for “any and all records/documents from January 1, 2008 through the date of response to this request” for claims or lawsuits which resulted in a payout of $1,000 or more against the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office. After having not received a response to his records request, Mr. Gollaher filed an appeal with the Morgan County Council Chair in a letter dated January 9, 2020. After no response was provided by Morgan County, Mr. Gollaher filed an appeal with the State Records Committee (“Committee”) on February 6, 2020.
In two documents dated December 23, 2019, Mr. Gollaher made separate records requests to Morgan County for records regarding individuals who had been employed by Morgan County as the county’s Information Technology Professionals and GRAMA Specialists since June 2012. After failing to receive responses to these records requests, Mr. Gollaher filed an appeal with the Morgan County Council Chair in a letter dated January 20, 2020. After no response was provided by Morgan County, Mr. Gollaher filed a second appeal with the Committee on February 17, 2020. Since Mr. Gollaher’s appeals involve the same governmental entity, the Committee combined the two appeals. A hearing was held on May 14, 2020 where the Committee considered the written materials, testimony, and oral arguments from the parties appearing electronically before the Committee. After carefully considering the requested relief of the parties, the Committee issues the following Decision and Order.
STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR DECISION
1. GRAMA states that a 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). GRAMA also states that the name, gender, job title, job description, and dates of employment are public records except to the extent they contain information expressly permitted to be treated confidentially. Utah Code § 63G-2-301(2)(b).
2. In regards to Mr. Gollaher’s December 12, 2019 records request, the Committee was persuaded that records regarding claims or lawsuits which resulted in a payout of $1,000 or more against the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office may exist with Morgan County’s public expense reports. Although these expense report records may contain more information than what was requested by Mr. Gollaher, Morgan County may redact the records as needed in order to provide the information requested by Mr. Gollaher.
3. The Committee is also convinced that Morgan County has records responsive to Mr. Gollaher’s request for records regarding Morgan County’s Information Technology Professionals and GRAMA Specialists. Records regarding individuals serving in these positions concerning their names, genders, job titles, job descriptions, and dates of their employment, are public records pursuant to Utah Code § 63G-2-301(2)(b).
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED THAT the appeal of Petitioner, Scott Gollaher 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 21 day of May 2020.
BY THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE
KEN WILLIAMS, Chair Pro Tem State Records Committee
Page Last Updated June 30, 2020 .