Cushman v. Chief, State of Connecticut, University of Connecticut, Public Safety Division
In the 2000 case of Chief of Police, Hartford Police Department v. Freedom of Information Commission, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that a public agency must disclose records under the Freedom of Information Act even if those records are, or might be, subject to the rules of discovery in federal or state court proceedings. Robert Cushman appealed to the Freedom of Information Commission alleging that the respondents, the University of Connecticut Police Department and its chief, violated the Freedom of Information Act by failing to provide him with requested records concerning an arrest for operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The respondents claimed that C.G.S. §1-210(b)(3)(C) exempted the records from mandatory disclosure. The FOIC found that the requested records were records of a law enforcement agency not otherwise available to the public which records were compiled in connection with the detection or investigation of crime within the meaning of C.G.S. §1-210(b)(3). The respondents contended that because the case was still open and had not been officially disposed of by nolle or dismissal, the information in those records could be used in a prospective law enforcement action against Cushman and their disclosure would be prejudicial to such action, by compromising the prosecutor's discovery rights. The FOIC, unpersuaded, pointed to C.G.S. §1-213(b)(1), the Supreme Court's decision in Chief of Police, Hartford Police Department v. Freedom of Information Commission, and the Appellate Court's ruling in the 1998 case of Department of Public Safety, Division of State Police v. Freedom of Information Commission. The respondents failed to prove with sufficient particularity, as required by C.G.S. §1-210(b)(3)(C), that the requested records were to be used in a prospective law enforcement action and that disclosure of those records to Cushman would prejudice such action. The respondents violated C.G.S. §1-210(a) in failing to provide Cushman with a copy of the requested records, except for video and audio recordings overwritten by the time of the request. The FOIC reminded the respondents of their duty under C.G.S. §14-227i(a) to maintain for at least two years all records concerning arrests for operating under the influence and directed them to provide Cushman with all existing requested records.