City investigator’s report not subject to open records law
CONNECTICUT–The state Supreme Court in Hartford ruled in early June that an independent investigatory report created for the City of Stamford was exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. The report was prepared by an attorney, working as an investigator for the city, who examined the contracts and payments in a city construction project that became the subject of a fee dispute.
The court said that because the report was created in the course of the city’s preparation for negotiation or litigation in a contract dispute, it fit under an exemption to the FOIA, in spite of the fact that the lawyer who conducted the investigation and wrote the report was not representing the city as its attorney.
The contractor made an initial request for a copy of the report in June 1993, which the city refused. The state Freedom of Information Commission then ordered the city to release the report later that month, and the Connecticut Appellate Court in Hartford later affirmed the decision.
But the high court said that there was sufficient evidence to show that the report was prepared in the course of legal action, and thus was not subject to disclosure under FOIA. FOIA provides an exemption for public agency “records pertaining to strategy and negotiations with respect to pending claims.” (City of Stamford v. Freedom of Information Commission; Commission counsel: Victor Perpetua, Hartford)