State Records Committee Appeal 94-02
JULIAN DEAN HATCH vs.
UTAH STATE DIVISION OF PARKS AND RECREATION
DECISION AND ORDER, CASE NO. 94-02
By this appeal, Appellant, Julian Dean Hatch seeks an order compelling the Utah State Division of Parks and Recreation to release to him "all records, requests, reports, and accountings for archeological digs and research done at Coombs site, Anasazi State Park since 1970 to 1994."
Appellant submitted written statements, and appeared personally at the hearing of the Committee held February 11, 1994.
Appellee appeared through counsel, David S. Tibbs, Esq. at the February 11, 1994 hearing and submitted written comment, oral testimony through a witness, and oral argument. The State Records Committee, having reviewed the written materials submitted by the parties, and having heard the testimony and argument, now issues the following decision and order.
STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR DECISION
1. Appellee raised questions whether Appellant had brought himself within the jurisdiction of the Committee. By statute, a records request is deemed denied if not answered within five business days of appeal to the Chief Administrative Officer of the Agency. Appellant submitted a letter dated November 26, 1994 that Appellant considers an appeal, and which, though not entirely clear, may be taken as an appeal to the Chief Administrative Officer from denials of records requests to the Division. Appellant stated he interpreted a letter dated December 10, 1993 from an attorney representing the Division of Parks and Recreation (David S. Tibbs) to be a denial of his "appeal," though the letter does not so state.
Under Utah Code Ann. 63-2-403 (Supp. 1993) Appellant has 30 days to appeal to the Records Committee from a decision of the agency's chief administrative officer, which would expire on January 10, 1994 if the time for appeal ran from the December 10, 1993 date of the letter from Mr. Tibbs. There is a document in the file of the Records Committee from Julian Dean Hatch dated January 11, 1994 and received by the Committee on January 14, 1994, which constitutes Appellant's appeal to the Records Committee. Appellant stated he did not have ready access to the Utah Code to guide his appeal and asserted other extenuating circumstances. Despite the questions regarding jurisdiction, the Committee extends every equitable deference to Appellant and takes jurisdiction of his appeal.
2. The appeal is denied on the merits because the records requested, insofar as the request can be identified, are protected under Utah Code Ann. 63-2-304(25)(26)(Supp. 1993). Also, the request does not provide "a description of the records requested that identifies the record with reasonable specificity." Utah Code Ann. 63-2-204 (Supp. 1993).
WHEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED THAT the appeal is denied.
RIGHT TO APPEAL
Either party may appeal this Decision and Order to district court. 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 February, 1994.
JEAN BICKMORE WHITE,
Acting Chairman, State Records Committee.