State Records Committee Appeal Decision 2020-41
BEFORE THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE OF THE STATE OF UTAH
PAUL RICHINS, Petitioner, v.
DAVIS COUNTY. Respondent.
DECISION AND ORDER
Case No. 20-41
By this appeal, Petitioner, Paul Richins, seeks access to records allegedly held by Respondent, Davis County.
On or about September 16, 2019, Mr. Richins made a request for records pursuant to the Government Records Access and Management Act (“GRAMA”) via letter to the Davis County Assessor’s office. Mr. Richins requested all “tangible” and “intangible” records related to Respondent’s valuation of his real property. Over the course of the next several months, Mr. Richins reaffirmed his request multiple times. In each correspondence with the Respondent, Mr. Richins requested access to the records relied upon by Respondent to determine the market value of his real property.
Respondent initially viewed Mr. Richins’ request as part of an administrative appeal of the valuation of his property and scheduled an appeal before the County Board of Equalization. On December 13, 2019, Mr. Richins filed an appeal with the Davis County Chief Administrative Officer. A decision was not provided until January 2020.
Thereafter Mr. Richins filed an appeal with the State Records Committee (“Committee”). On August 27, 2020, the Committee held a hearing during which the parties were allowed to participate electronically and present their arguments. After carefully considering the requested relief of the parties, the Committee issues the following Decision and Order.
STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR DECISION
1. GRAMA specifies that “all records are public unless otherwise expressly provided by statute.” Utah Code § 63G-2-201(2). 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)(a).
2. Counsel for Respondent argued that access to all records responsive to Mr. Richins’ records request has already occurred. Respondent relied upon a Declaration by Davis County Assessor Dale Peterson, which stated that on four separate occasions in July 2020, Mr. Richins was allowed to inspect all records maintained and relied upon by Respondent to determine the market value of Mr. Richins’ property and the properties in his immediate neighborhood.
3. After having considered the arguments of the parties, and hearing oral arguments and testimony, the Committee finds that Respondent provided access to all records that are responsive to Mr. Richins’ records request.
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED THAT the appeal of Petitioner, Paul Richins 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 8 day of September 2020
BY THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE
Chair, State Records Committee
Page Last Updated September 15, 2020 .