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Pa. open records case: Governor_v._Raffle

Pa. open records case: Governor_v._Raffle

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Published by: scott blanchard on Jul 27, 2012
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05/13/2014

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pennsylvania
OFFICEOFOPENRECORDS
FINALDETERMINATIONINTHEMATTEROFANDYRAFFLE,Complainant
v.
DocketNo.:AP2012-0788OFFICEOFTHEGOVERNOR,RespondentINTRODUCTION
AndyRaffle("Requester")submittedarequest(l'Request")totheOfficeoftheGovernor("Office")pursuanttotheRight-to-KnowLaw,65P.S.§§67.101
etseq.,
("RTKLft),seekingrecordsrelatingtoOfficeofficialsandemployees.TheRequestwasgrantedinpart,anddeniedinparttotheextenttheRequestsoughtrecordsexemptundertheRTKL.TheRequestertimelyappealedtotheOfficeofOpenRecords("OOR").ForthereasonssetforthinthisFinalDetermination,theappealis
granted
andtheOfficeisrequiredtotakefurtheractionasdirected.
FACTUALBACKGROUND
OnMay7,2012,theRequestwasfiledseekingthefullname,countyofresidence,andagency-issuedtelephonenumbersforfifty-six(56)identifiedemployees,and"theaddressofthehomeinShalerTownship,Pennsylvania,thatconstitutesthedomicileof'theHonorableThomasCorbett,Governor.OnMay15,2012,theOfficegrantedtheRequestinpart,anddeniedtheRequestinpart.Specifically,theOfficedeniedtheRequestastotheGovernor'shomeaddressonthebasisthatrespondingwouldrequirelegalresearchtodeterminetheGovernor's
1
 
"domicile."Inaddition,theOfficedeniedaccesstotheGovernor'shomeaddressandemployeemiddlenamesonthebasisthatthatsuchinformationwasexemptfrompublicdisclosurepursuanttothepersonalsecurityexemption.65P.S.§67.708(b)(l)(ii).Finally,theOfficedeniedaccesstoemployees'countyofresidenceinformationandagency-issuedcellularanddirecttelephonenumberspursuanttothepersonalsecurityexemptionandpersonalidentificationinformationexemption.65P.S.§67.708(b)(1)(ii),(6)(i)(A).OnMay16,2012,theRequestertimelyappealedtotheOORstatingthegroundsfordisclosure.Specifically,theRequesterappealedthedenialofaccesstorecordsdisclosingthehomeaddressofGovernorCorbett,aswellasthemiddlenames,countyofresidenceandagency-issuedtelephonenumbersforthirty-nine(39)identifiedemployees.
LEGALANALYSIS
TheRTKLis"designedtopromoteaccesstoofficialgovernmentinformationinordertoprohibitsecrets,scrutinizetheactionsofpublicofficialsandmakepublicofficialsaccountablefortheiractions."
Bowling
v.
OaR,
990A.2d813,824(Pa.Commw.Ct.2010),
appealgranted
15A.3d427(Pa.2011).TheOORisauthorizedtohearappealsforallCommonwealthandlocalagencies.
See
65P.S.§67.503(a).Anappealsofficerisrequired"toreviewallinformationfiledrelatingtotherequest"andmayconsidertestimony,evidenceanddocumentsthatarereasonablyprobativeandrelevanttothematteratissue.65P.S.§67.1102(a)(2).
An
appealsofficermayconductahearingtoresolveanappeal.Thedecisiontoholdahearingornotholdahearingisdiscretionaryandnon-appealable.
Jd.;Giurintano
v.
Dep'tofGen.Servs.,
20A.3d613,617CPa.Commw.Ct.2011).Here,whiletheRequesterrequestedahearing,theOORhasthenecessary,requisiteinformationandevidencebeforeittoproperlyadjudicatethematter.2
 
TheOfficeisaCommonwealthagencysubjecttotheRTKLthatisrequiredtodisclosepublicrecords.65P.S.§67.301.RecordsinpossessionofaCommonwealthagencyarepresumedpublicunlessexemptundertheRTKLorotherlaworprotectedbyaprivilege,judicialorderordecree.
See
65P.S.
§
67.305.Uponreceiptofarequest,anagencyisrequiredtoassesswhetherarecordrequestediswithinitspossession,custodyorcontrolandrespondwithinfivebusinessdays.65P.S.§67.901.Section708oftheRTKLclearlyplacestheburdenofproofonthepublicbodytodemonstratethatarecordisexempt.Inpertinentpart,Section708(a)states:"(1)TheburdenofprovingthatarecordofaCommonwealthagencyorlocalagencyisexemptfrompublicaccessshallbeontheCommonwealthagencyorlocalagencyreceivingarequestbyapreponderanceoftheevidence."65P.S.§67.708(a).Preponderanceoftheevidencehasbeendefinedas"suchproofasleadsthefact-finder...tofindthattheexistenceofacontestedfactismoreprobablethanitsnonexistence."
Pa.StateTroopersAss'n
v.
Scolforo,
18A.3d435,439(Pa.Commw.Ct.2011)(quoting
Dep
't
ofTransp.
v.
Agric.LandsCondemnationApprovalBd.,
5A.3d821,827(Pa.Commw.Ct.2010)).
1.
TheRequestdoesnotseekalegalconclusion.
Asaninitialmatter,theOfficedeniedthehomeaddressofGovernorCorbettonthebasisthattheRequestseeksalegalconclusionastowhetherGovernorCorbett'sShalerTownshiphomeishis"domicile."Inaddition,theOfficedeniedaccesstoGovernorCorbett'shomeaddressonthebasisthatthedisclosureofsuchinformationwouldpresentasubstantialandreasonablylikelyriskofharmtotheGovernor'sphysicalsafetyandpersonalsecurity.TheOORcannotagreethattheRequest,aswritten,seekstohavetheOfficeconductlegalresearchtodeterminewhetherGovernorCorbett'sShalerTownshiphomeishisdomicile.Rather,theOOR3

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