State Records Committee Appeal Decision 2011-05
BEFORE THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE OF THE STATE OF UTAH
BRUCE FORDHAM, Petitioner, vs.
UTAH DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN RESOURCES, Respondent.
DECISION AND ORDER
Case No. 11-05
By this appeal, Petitioner, Bruce Fordham, seeks to appeal a partial denial of his records request for records associated with a case involving Petitioner and a resident in the Utah State Development Center.
On or about December 8, 2010, Mr. Fordham made a records request pursuant to the Utah Government Records Access and Management Act (“GRAMA”) to the Utah Department of Human Services (“DHS”). DHS partially denied his request on December 20, 2010 indicating that some of the information contained within the records was “protected,” pursuant to Utah Code Ann. § 63G-2-202(11)(b) and/or Utah Code Ann. § 62A-3-312. Mr. Fordham appealed this denial to the State Records Committee (“Committee”) and his appeal was scheduled to be heard on May 12, 2011. Pursuant to Utah Code Ann. § 63G-2-403 and Utah Admin. Code R. 35-1-1 et seq., the parties were properly notified of the hearing date and time. After holding a hearing on May 12, 2011, the Committee issues the following Decision and Order.
STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR DECISION
1. GRAMA specifies that “all records are public unless otherwise expressly provided by statute.” Utah Code Ann. § 63G-2-201(2). Records that are not public are designated as either “private,” “protected,” or “controlled.” See, Utah Code Ann. §§ 63G-2-302, -303, -304 and -305.
2. At the hearing, no one appeared on behalf of Mr. Fordham.
3. The Records Committee is required to hold a hearing and allow the parties to testify, present evidence and comment on the issues. See, Utah Code Ann. § 63G-2-201(7) and (8). If a petitioner wishes to postpone a hearing or withdraw an appeal, the petitioner shall notify the Committee and the governmental entity in writing no later than two days prior to the scheduled hearing date. Utah Admin. Code R. 35-1-2(13)(a).
4. After holding a hearing, the Committee shall issue a signed order either granting the petition in whole or in part or; upholding the determination of the governmental entity in whole or in part. See Utah Code Ann. § 63G-2-403(11)(a).
5. Based upon Mr. Fordham failing to appear at the hearing, failing to give notice or request a continuance of the matter, or giving notice that he would not appear, the Committee finds that Mr. Fordham voluntarily abandoned his appeal to the Committee.
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED THAT the appeal of Bruce Fordham is denied and the partial denial of Mr. Fordham’s GRAMA request by the Utah Department of Human Services is upheld.
RIGHT TO APPEAL
Either party may appeal this Decision and Order to the District Court. The petition for review must be filed no later than thirty (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 Utah Code Ann. § 63G-2-404. 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.
Pursuant to Utah Code Ann. § 63G-2-403(14)(d), the government entity herein shall comply with the order of the Committee and, if records are ordered to be produced, file: (1) a notice of compliance with the records committee upon production of the records; or (2) a notice of intent to appeal. If the government entity 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.
Entered this 19th day of May, 2011.
BY THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE
BETSY ROSS, Chairperson
State Records Committee