State Records Committee Appeal Decision 2017-33
BEFORE THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE OF THE STATE OF UTAH
PATRICK SULLIVAN, Petitioner, v.
UTAH DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS. Respondent.
DECISION AND ORDER
Case No. 17-33
By this appeal, Petitioner, Patrick Sullivan, seeks access to records allegedly held by Respondents, Utah Department of Corrections.
On or about April 27, 2017, Mr. Sullivan made a records request pursuant to the Government Records Access and Management Act (“GRAMA”). Mr. Sullivan requested an “invoice showing all calls made, cost of each call, and all deposits made to my CenturyLink/IC Solutions phone account.” On May 5, 2017, Respondent denied the request based upon Mr. Sullivan’s outstanding unpaid fees as allowed by Utah Code § 63G-2-203(8)(a)(ii). On May 10, 2017, Mr. Sullivan appealed the denial and requested a fee waiver. In a letter dated May 18, 2017, Mike Haddon, Deputy Director, denied Mr. Sullivan’s appeal stating that “a governmental entity [may] charge fees for providing records” and that his request for a fee waiver was being denied.
On July 24, 2017, Mr. Sullivan submitted a second request for the same information, and on July 26, 2017, Respondent declined to process the request because Mr. Sullivan had not paid all the fees from a previous records request. After a second appeal was denied on August 11, 2017, Mr. Sullivan filed an appeal with the State Records Committee (“Committee”). After hearing oral argument and testimony from all the parties, the Committee issues the following Decision and Order.
STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR DECISION
1. Every 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). However, a governmental entity may require payment of past fees and future estimated fees before beginning to process a request if the requester has not paid fees from previous requests. Utah Code § 63G-2-203(8)(a)(ii).
2. In the present case, Corrections did not process Mr. Sullivan’s request because he still owed an outstanding amount from a previous records request. Based on Mr. Sullivan’s failure to pay the fees from the previous request, the Committee finds that pursuant to Utah Code § 63G-2-203(8)(a)(ii), Corrections was not required to process Mr. Sullivan’s request prior to payment of outstanding fees.
3. Mr. Sullivan has also requested a waiver of his fees. A person who believes that there has been an unreasonable denial of a fee waiver under Utah Code § 63G-2-203(4) may appeal the denial in the same manner as a person appeals when inspection of a public record is denied under Utah Code § 63G-2-205. Utah Code § 63G-2-203(6)(a). The adjudicative body hearing the appeal shall review the fee waiver de novo, but shall review and consider the governmental entity’s denial of the fee and any determination under Utah Code § 63G-2-203(4)(a-c). Utah Code § 63G-2-203(6)(b)(i). Additionally, the adjudicative body has the same authority when a fee waiver or reduction is denied as it has when the inspection of a public record is denied. Utah Code § 63G-2-203(6)(b)(ii).
4. After reviewing the arguments submitted by the parties, and hearing oral arguments and testimony, the Committee finds that Mr. Sullivan failed to prove that he is entitled to a fee waiver pursuant to Utah Code § 63G-2-203(4).
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED THAT the appeal of Petitioner, Patrick Sullivan, 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 23rd day of October 2017.
BY THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE
HOLLY RICHARDSON, Chairperson Pro Tem
State Records Committee
Page Last Updated October 23, 2017 .