State Records Committee decision 2016-17
BEFORE THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE OF THE STATE OF UTAH
EDGARDO MATA, Petitioner, v.
UTAH DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS. Respondent.
DECISION AND ORDER
Case No. 16-17
By this appeal, Petitioner, Edgardo Mata, seeks access to records allegedly held by Respondent, Utah Department of Corrections.
On or about February 4, 2016, Mr. Mata made a records request to Utah Department of Corrections ("Corrections"), pursuant to the Government Records Access and Management Act (“GRAMA”). Mr. Mata requested “[m]y entire STG [security threat group] file, including the validation matrix and all information listed in FD 29-03.02.” On or about February 16, 2016, Corrections notified Mr. Mata that the request was denied and that the records were classified as “protected” pursuant to Utah Code §§ 63G-2-305(11) and -305(13). On February 27, 2016, Mr. Mata appealed the denial to Deputy Director Mark Haddon, who upheld the decision that the record was appropriately classified as “protected.”
Mr. Mata filed an appeal with the State Records Committee (“Committee”). The Committee having reviewed the arguments submitted by the parties and having heard oral argument and testimony on April 14, 2016, now issues the following Decision and Order.
STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR DECISION
1. The Government Records Access and Management Act (“GRAMA”) specifies that “all records are public unless otherwise expressly provided by statute.” Utah Code § 63G-2-201(2). Records that are private, controlled, or protected under Utah Code §§ 63G-2-302, -303, -304, or 305, are not public records. Utah Code § 63G-2-201(3)(a).
2. Records that, if disclosed, would jeopardize the security or safety of a correctional facility, or records relating to incarceration, treatment, probation, or parole, that would interfere with the control and supervision of an offender’s incarceration, treatment, probation, or parole, are protected records if properly classified by a governmental entity. Utah Code § 63G-2-305(13). Additionally, records which if disclosed, would “jeopardize the life or safety of an individual,” are protected records if properly classified by a governmental entity. Utah Code § 63G-2-305(11). Further, records created or maintained for discipline, civil, criminal, or administrative enforcement purposes, are protected records if properly classified if release of the records could be expected to interfere with the civil, criminal, or administrative enforcement proceedings, or with discipline purposes. Utah Code § 63G-2-305(10)(a) and (b).
3. Corrections argued that decisions regarding the housing of inmates and the restrictions placed upon the inmates relate to security measures for the Draper Correctional Facility (“Facility”), and should be left to the discretion of the Corrections. Corrections presented persuasive testimony that release of the disputed records would compromise the security and safety of the Facility, jeopardizing the lives and safety of individuals at the Facility, because information within the records could be used by inmates to thwart Corrections’ security procedures for the Facility.
4. After reviewing the arguments submitted by the parties, and hearing oral arguments and testimony, the Committee finds that Corrections properly classified the records as protected records pursuant to Utah Code §§ 63G-2-305(10), -305(11) and -305(13).
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED THAT the appeal of Petitioner, Edgardo Mata, is 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) and (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 its 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 25th day of April 2016.
BY THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE
PATRICIA SMITH-MANSFIELD, Chairperson
State Records Committee
Page Last Updated April 25, 2016 .