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May 21, 2011

Connecticut Court Administration Assumes Anti-FOIA Policy After Spending Millions To Do The Opposite

By Francis Knize

The Connecticut Court Administration through its Special Task Force spent years formulating FOIA rules on state tax dollars; millions were spent. Now they are dodging the issue and causing delays to avoid debate.And there goes "Transparency, the hallmark of FOIA.


Back in 2006, Vincent Michael Valvo, ex-editor of the Hartford Business Journal and ex-president of the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information, wrote an excellent op-ed in the Hartford Courant about the then half-hearted reforms endorsed by Governor Rell's Commission on Judicial Reform. The Commission's biggest failure was determined to be Legislature's rubber stamping of Judicial Branch recommendations for Rule-making, thereby subverting proper authority. There were no real open meeting discussions on those recommendations at the legislative Judiciary Committee, in effect, handing over voice and total control of rulemaking predominantly to Judges, resulting in arguable violations of the Separation of Powers Doctrine. Presently, we see  pattern and practice of judicial misconduct when noting outspoken Conn. FOIA Council member at the time having said:

Valvo 2006: Connecticut's Constitution says very plainly that the "powers and jurisdiction of [the] courts shall be defined by law." This is the same language as in the federal Constitution. But on the federal level, it's clear what that means: Congress holds the authority to make the rules and procedures of the court.

In Connecticut, though, the courts have been slowly trying to change that perception, issuing rulings over the past three decades that, though just shy of ever saying it outright, have been aggregating power to the judicial branch that rightly belongs to the legislature. In Connecticut, the court thinks it - and only it - makes the rules. And so, apparently, does the Governor's Commission on Judicial Reform.

The commission never considered issuing a statement that the court has gone too far in absorbing rule-making power.  

 Events In a nutshell:

The Connecticut Court Administration through its Special Task Force spent years formulating FOIA rules on state tax dollars; millions were spent. The Judicial Branch contradict themselves by now saying [Paraphrased} "Oh, we made a mistake, Public Hearings ARE NOT Administrative Acts subject to FOIA." and also "Court-directed Training programs are 'Events' and not administrative functions involved with managing the Internal Institutional machinery of the courts". Incredibly, that's the Family Commission's defense in the Nowacki Case, of which they are trying to dismiss on point that the FOIA Commission does not have Jurisdiction. They are plainly dodging the issue and causing delays to avoid the debate. By policy they should be allowing debate to promote evolution of the law. But, in the eyes of the public this is hypocritical to serve only the ends of the Bar/Court Oligarchy at the expense of justice and an honest system. There goes "Transparency", the hallmark of FOIA. News agencies should rally to protect the Act and report. All of the Judicial Task Force initiatives are laid to waste. -Waste and Fraud. -No honest services here.  It's all there in the Video.

Connecticut Breaking News:   

Retired CBS Exec. Michael Nowacki takes FOIA Case against The Family Commission's anti-FOIA Policy
Please reference the video of the Nowacki FOIA Case for discussion:
Citizen Michael Nowacki is exposing at great risk how the Connecticut Judicial Branch has been violating the Separation of Powers. He does it for the benefit of every citizen's right to know. The various Court Administrations won't tell you what they've been doing, individual judges soliciting Bar money for pet programs. Chief Family Judge Lynda Munro is literally going out of her way to drum up the sales for over a billion dollars in new lawyer business through the GAL program, a program which in fact actually hurts and destroys families by alienating children and parents, ...and now I hear she's doing it again to attack marital assets some more with probate madness for a new controversal "assignment probate judge" position.

On March 18, 2011, the Connecticut Ethics Commission undertook investigation into Chief Family Judge Lynda Munro's alleged unlawful solicitation for "sponsorship" from members of the Connecticut Bar Association for mandated family court directed training for Guardian Ad Litem (G.A.L.) held at Quinnipiac University. Incredibly, they dismissed it on point that GAL training sessions are "Events" rather than Administrative, a legal ploy to plunge the inquiry into oblivion by creative legalese. Citizen's know the Ethnics Commission is inept since the time they cleared Gov. Rowland which led to the DOJ to prosecute.

The FOIA Commission hesitates for having jurisdiction, saying Nowacki's contentions are not Administrative as defined by Conn. Supreme Court. (29:40 & 01:05:40) The hearing officer was referring to the 2006 decision, Clerk of GA 7 v. FOIC. That decision expanded the definition of "adjudicative" records to include simple docket sheet data which would become not subject to FOIA. The hearing officer attests @ 27:35 that he needs no coaching on the law by Mr. Nowacki because he's a professional 22 years on FOIA Law. Yet...

Clerk has nothing to do with the Nowacki case because Nowacki is not asking for anything to do with an individual case and privacy issues. He's asking for information on Public Hearings. The Law Tribune writes  : "Three of the seven justices in Clerk favored test based on the 1988 case of Bar Examining Commission v. FOIC. Notes: Quinn: March 3, 2008: We do believe that administrative function should be defined as including the management of the internal institutional machinery of the court system, accounting, budgeting, personnel, facilities, physical operations, scheduling, record keeping, and docketing." That statement is answer to Officer Perpetua's J. Quinn question at 45:50.

In the 1983 case of Rules Committee v. FOIC, Chief Justice Ellen Ash Peters noted that the state FOI Act applies only to the Judicial Branch "administrative records" and not to "adjudicative records" that might interfere with the courts' critical function of deciding individual cases. Peters narrowly defined "administrative" matters as the "budget, personnel, facilities and physical operations of the courts." However, that was surpassed as shown above in 2008 by J. Quinn's notes which included all that encompasses internal institutional machinery, the point being Administrative acts as acknowledged by society are quite broad.

At the very least, it can be claimed Nowacki's failed FOIA to J. Munro and others about the GAL program and rule-making procedure was discovering the following: to know about records dealing with GAL budget or sponsorship, GAL personnel and even trainees, facilities at Quinnipiac and physical operations of the courts concerning the GAL. AMC "commando programs". After all, those Public Agency programs are physical operations that accommodate the efficient operations of the court, are administrative; and Nowacki is not seeking "adjudicative records" that might interfere with deciding any individual case.

Rules Committee v. FOIC is not so narrow that it limits the breadth of which administrative functions can still be carried out despite Clerk, thus is still under FOIA juris and oversight.

The hearing officer, Mr. Perpetua, @ 1:31:30 is dead wrong to have gone to such a narrow definition when "internal machinery" is the mantra, and when Nowacki points out the Superior Court and Appellate Court, and Chief Adm. J. Quinn acknowledges their rule-making falls as an administrative act 31:15 & 60:12. -And when the Supreme Ct. NEVER limited Administrative tasks past docket and case sealing. Administrative function should be defined as including the management of the internal institutional machinery of the court system, which must include activity related to Rule-making. Why does Perpetua say different @ 1:21:15 ? Perpetua himself comes under scrutiny for then denying evidence relevance concerning Rule-making 1:15:45. Perpetua accuses Nowacki of being a mere "layman of the law" yet  it is interesting to note that in the video Perpetua admits to believing the whole Family Court Administration, and their lawyer, Libbin, messed-up the very definition of Administrative duties, as incredibly this is now the Defendant-courts' claim; that the lower courts didn't know what they were doing putting posters up in buildings that any Public Hearing is fair play for FOIA procedure. The video is comedic at times, the hearing official making mockery of the system through convoluted logic that payrolls, personnel, and "documents like that" are only what the Commission is interested in, not Public Hearings. In the beginning he ask Nowacki if he has a gun after an excruciating scene for several minutes  where Perpetua fumbles for Nowacki's pointed phone messages. I thought "You got to be kidding?"
Who will hear the issue? Judge Lynda B. Munro spearheaded a program aimed at influencing private law firms' hiring and employment practices. This is highly controversial behavior showing impropriety and warranting investigation of a conflict of interest, ethics, and even criminal allegations.

When a judge creates and manages, schedules,and coordinates a program like the GAL (Guardian Ad Litem) or AMC (Atty for the Minor Child) training sessions, a program under great social controversy whether or not it's actually destructive to families, promoted independently by this J. Munro, ... is that or is that not an Administrative function subject to FOIA Commission jurisdiction? Are GAL programs merely events that Judicial officials were invited to or did Judicial Committees actually direct these programs? We wait to see The FOIA Commission's response.

Francis Knize
Citizen Reporter
Legal Producer

203 544 9603

Authors Bio:
Francis C. P. Knize has been active as a Public Outreach and Educational Outreach producer for over11 years, offering communications projects to NASA which coordinate with science museums around the country, and also outstanding science classrooms and teachers. Mr. Knize has also helped define policy issues concerning NASA's mandates and certain Congressional acts in reference to NASA. He has also produced reports on Peer Review with respect to the Office for Management Budget's requests for comments from the public. This report to be found at the following link:

Mr. Knize has also been active in the enforcement of the Data Quality Act, to ensure that NASA's space probe data retains its credibility, reproduceability, integrity, and transparency within the agency's archives. Mr. Knize believes there can be much improvement concerning the communications abilities through the NASA Public Affairs Office, where better flexibility and acceptance of a wider variety of public relations ventures would be suitable policy for that department. He continues to work toward this end, to improve dissemination capability to accommodate widest possible dissemination policy. He also serves to improve NASA's mandated connection (NASA Appropriations Act of 2000; Section 314) with outside entities and scientific groups for discussion and peer review of SETI topics.

Francis C. P. Knize's documentary "ISDC 2005; A Vision For Space" involved interviews with National Space Society attendants, some of whom are pivotal to actual development of a culture in space, and colonization/habitation of the Moon and Mars within the next 10 years. He offers to the network broadcasting arena innovative, imaginative, and compelling projects in science. He also is Director of Marketing for Sky Train Corp and for Lunar Explorer, LLC, a Lunar Educational Gaming Company