State Records Committee Appeal Decision 2020-27
BEFORE THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE OF THE STATE OF UTAH
KENT SINGLETON, Petitioner, v.
WEBER HUMAN SERVICES. Respondent.
DECISION AND ORDER
Case No. 20-27
By this appeal, Petitioner, Kent Singleton, seeks access to records allegedly held by Respondent, the Weber Human Services.
On a form dated December 10, 2019, Mr. Singleton made a records request to Weber Human Services for “personal and business cell phone texts, emails, conversations, trainings/meetings/minutes, notes and data of any communications” concerning accusations made that he and Jeff Glum inappropriately used Riverdale Senior Center (“Center”) computers in 2019. In an e-mail dated December 18, 2019, Kevin Eastman, Executive Director for Respondent, said he had no new documents to present to him regarding his request.
On January 7, 2020, Mr. Singleton filed an appeal. Michelle Jenson, Director of Compliance and quality for Respondent, responded to Mr. Singleton’s appeal in an e-mail dated January 10, 2020, stating that after a careful review of the records request, she had “come to the conclusion that we have already provided to you all documents and information we have related to your request.”
Mr. Singleton filed an appeal with the State Records Committee (“Committee”). On July 9, 2020, the Committee held a hearing during which the parties were allowed to participate electronically and present their arguments. Ms. Jenson appeared on behalf of Respondent and Mr. Glum appeared as an interested third party. Prior to the hearing, Mr. Singleton requested that he appear in person before the Committee. The Committee Chair denied the request based upon a determination that conducting an electronic meeting without an anchor location was necessary because conducting the meeting with an anchor location presents a substantial risk to the health and safety of those who may be present at the anchor location. See, Utah Code § 52-4-207(4) (2020 H.B. 5002 Open and Public Meetings Act Amendments). Mr. Singleton did not make an electronic appearance at the hearing, but all written materials submitted by the parties were considered by 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. The Government Records Access and Management Act (“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). In response to a records request, a governmental entity is not required to create a record. Utah Code § 63G-2-201(8)(a).
2. After having considered the oral and written arguments of the parties, the Committee is persuaded that Respondent has provided all responsive records to Mr. Singleton. The evidence shows that Respondent did a thorough search for the records and actually provided Mr. Singleton with more records than had been requested.
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED THAT the appeal of Petitioner, Mr. Singleton 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 21 day of July 2020
BY THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE
Chair, State Records Committee
Page Last Updated July 22, 2020 .