State Records Committee Appeal 93-01
RANDY T. NIELSEN vs.
UTAH DEPT. OF NATURAL RESOURCES, DIVISION OF WILDLIFE RESOURCES
DECISION AND ORDER, CASE NO. 93-01
By this appeal Randy T. Nielsen seeks an order compelling the Division of Wildlife Resources to give him a list of the names and addresses of all persons who bought hunting or fishing licenses since 1982 whose addresses are in zip codes 84104 and 84119. The State Records Committee, having reviewed the written materials submitted by the parties, and having heard the oral argument and testimony of the parties and comments from other interested persons on March 12, 1993, 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 Ann. 63-2-201(2) (1992).
2. GRAMA also provides that records that are properly classified as "private" are not public. Utah Code Ann. 63-2-201(3) (1992).
3. The Division has classified home addresses of license holders as "private" and bases its denial on that classification. Therefore, the primary question before us is whether that classification is proper.
4. The Division bases its classification on Utah Code Ann. 63-2-302(2)(d) which provides that "records containing data on individuals the disclosure of which constitutes a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy" may be classified as "private".
5. The Division attempts to justify its classification primarily by claiming that "surrounding states have incurred problems such as harassment of hunters by individuals who do not share the same views on hunting", by reliance on a Dan Jones poll that concludes that seventy-five percent of license holders oppose release of names, addresses, and telephone numbers, by arguing that some license holders "would be irritated rather than enlightened by unwanted solicitations, and by reliance on federal case law."
6. Though we do not specifically rule on the validity of those reasons, we are not persuaded that they are adequate in this case. We are particularly concerned that the Division has used the lists to do joint mailings with certain private entities without allowing use of the lists by other private entities who may have differing points of view.
7. After considering all of the evidence we do not believe that release of the requested information would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.
8. We therefore find that classification of the requested records as "private" is inconsistent with GRAMA.
9. Pursuant to authority granted us by Utah Code Ann. 63-2- 502(2)(b) we find that the classification should be changed to "public".
THEREFORE IT IS ORDERED THAT the Division classify the names and addresses of purchasers of hunting and fishing licenses as "public" and that the Division allow Mr. Nielsen to have access to those public records in accordance with the requirements of GRAMA. This decision should not be understood to mean that all lists of names and addresses held by governmental entities are public.
RIGHT TO APPEAL
Pursuant to Utah Code Ann. 63-2-404 and 502(7) this reclassification Decision and Order may be appealed to the District Court by either party, by any affected governmental entity, or by any other interested person. The petition for review must be filed no later than 30 days after the date of this order. The petition for judicial review must be a complaint. The complaint and the appeals process are governed by the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure and by Utah Code Ann. 63-2-404 & 502(7) (1992). The court is required to make its decision de novo. In order to protect its rights on appeal, a party may wish to seek advice from an attorney.
Entered this 17th day of March, 1993.
BY THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE,
MAX J. EVANS, Chairman.