State Records Committee Appeal Decision 2016-30
BEFORE THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE OF THE STATE OF UTAH
REGINALD WILLIAMS, Petitioner, v.
UTAH DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS. Respondent.
DECISION AND ORDER
Case No. 16-30
By this appeal, Petitioner, Reginald Williams, seeks access to records allegedly held by Respondent, Utah Department of Corrections.
On or about March 29, 2016, Mr. Williams made a records request to Utah Department of Corrections ("Corrections"), pursuant to the Government Records Access and Management Act (“GRAMA”). Mr. Williams requested “[a]ll emails to or from UDC to or from the U.S. Attorney or any other person regarding [Mr. William's] 2-25-16 and 2-26-16 attorney visits."
On or about April 20, 2016, Jeralyn Zimmerman responded to Mr. Williams on behalf of Corrections. Redacted records were provided to Mr. Williams, with redactions made for information classified as "private" pursuant to Utah Code §63G-2-302(2)(d) or "protected" pursuant to Utah Code §§63G-2-305(11) and -305(13). Mr. Williams appealed the redactions, and on May 10, 2016, Corrections’ Deputy Director denied the appeal and affirmed the records classification for the redacted information.
Mr. Williams filed an appeal with the State Records Committee (“Committee”). The Committee having reviewed the arguments submitted by the parties, having heard oral argument and testimony, and having reviewed the records in camera on August 11, 2016, 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 §§63G-2-302, -303, -304, or 305, are not public records. Utah Code §63G-2-201(3)(a).
2. Records of a governmental entity’s security measures are not subject to GRAMA, and therefore, cannot be received by a requester through a GRAMA request. Utah Code § 63G-2-106.
3. Records, the disclosure of which 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). 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).
4. Records containing data on individuals, are private records if properly classified by a governmental entity and if disclosure would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. Utah Code § 63G-2-302(2)(d).
5. Corrections argued that decisions regarding the housing of inmates and the restrictions placed upon the inmates relate to security measures for the Gunnison Central Utah Correctional Facility (“Facility”), and should be left to the sound discretion of Corrections. Corrections also presented persuasive testimony that release of the disputed records would compromise the security and safety of the Facility and jeopardize the lives and safety of individuals at the Facility.
6. After reviewing the arguments submitted by the parties, hearing oral arguments and testimony, and reviewing the records in camera, the Committee finds that Corrections properly redacted the records, upholds Corrections’ records classifications as non-public pursuant to Utah Code §§ 63G-2-302(2)(d), -305(11) and -305(13), or as non-records pursuant to Utah Code § 63G-2-106.
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED THAT the appeal of Petitioner, Reginald Williams, 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) & (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 22nd day of August 2016.
BY THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE
PATRICIA SMITH-MANSFIELD, Chairperson
State Records Committee
Page Last Updated August 22, 2016 .