Government Administration and Elections Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-6750

Title:

AN ACT EXPANDING THE REQUIREMENT FOR DISCLOSURE OF ARREST RECORDS DURING A PENDING PROSECUTION UNDER THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT.

Vote Date:

3/30/2015

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

2/13/2015

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

GAE

REASONS FOR BILL:

To restore broader disclosure from law enforcement after an arrest.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Colleen M. Murphy, Executive Director and General Counsel, Freedom of Information Commission

Executive Director Murphy testified in favor of restoring the standard of disclosure to pre-Commisioner of Public Safety v.FOI Commission, 312 Conn.513 July 14, 2014).

As it stands, information required for disclosure is basic police blotter information and a “press release” from the police. The bill would reverse the court's decision and require not simply the blotter information but at least the blotter information in addition to an additional piece of un-redacted information. All other records must be available unless they fall under the FOI exemptions.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Len Besthoff, NBC Connecticut

Submitted testimony stating that while many police departments share information freely, the Connecticut State Police do not, and that journalists must visit individual barracks to obtain arrest logs or detailed information.

Board of Directors, CT Chapter, Society of Professional Journalists, Woodbridge, CT

Submitted testimony simply asking for a return to the previous requirements a “minimum obligation, not a maximum”.

Connecticut Broadcasters Association (CBA)

Supports the bill and “open government and freedom of information in the State of Connecticut”. HB 6750 restores the law to what had been the generally intended interpretation.

James Smith, President, CT Council on Freedom of Information (CCFOI)

Testified in support; asking that “ambiguity that the Supreme Court recently identified be resolved in favor of greater openness and transparency”

Michelle Tuccitto Sullo, New Haven Register

Testified in favor of the bill. The Supreme Court's decision came out of her complaint to the FOIC.

David McGuire, Staff Attorney, American Civil Liberties Union , CT(ACLU-CT)

Supports this bill. His testimony reminds the legislature that for 20 years prior to the 2014 court decision, law enforcement agencies had been releasing this type of information and the exemptions provide “adequate safeguards”.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Kevin Kane, Chief State's Attorney

Opposes the bill stating that the bill does not “adequately ensure the integrity of a pending prosecution”, does not protect the identity of witnesses, and information that might be used in a case could be jeopardized. “At worst HB 6750 is a dangerous attempt to recklessly override a well-reasoned decision of our Supreme Court resulting in potentially deadly consequences.”

Chief Paul Fitzgerald, Connecticut Police Chiefs Association

Opposes the bill; “premature release of information may harm the ongoing investigation , the state's criminal prosecution or adversely tarnish a person's reputation if they are later exonerated.”

Reported by: Wendy Fritz

4/8/15