Eric Bruxvoort / North Central Correctional Facility, Iowa Department of Corrections / Chapter 22 - public records request
RE: Formal complaint 14FC:0032, filed by Eric Bruxvoort and concerning the North Central Correctional Facility, Iowa Department of Corrections, alleging a failure to timely provide public records. Complaint dismissed as legally insufficient.
June 4, 2014
PO Box 102
Lake View, IA 51450
Dear Mr. Bruxvoort:
On May 1, 2014, you filed a formal complaint with the Iowa Public Information Board (IPIB). In that complaint you alleged that the North Central Correctional Facility (NCCF), Iowa Department of Corrections (DOC), violated Chapter 22 of the Iowa Code by failing to timely provide records you requested on March 18, 2014.
Your email of March 18, 2014, requested to review email correspondence of four DOC employees during the time frame of December 1, 2012, to March 18, 2014. You also requested to review all emails concerning you that had been sent to or from one of the four individuals named. The third part of your request included “all communication records kept in written, email or audio format by the Department of Administrative Services concerning Eric Bruxvoort regarding his employment at NCCF.” Lastly you requested all emails from any staff member from NCCF “that would be interpreted as a complaint or concerns about (yourself)” from July 9, 2010, to March 18, 2014. On April 17, 2014, you reiterated your request.
On May 1, 2014, correspondence was sent to you by the DOC, noting that your request generated 11, 613 emails. Since the costs involved could be prohibitive at $0.15 per page and $15.00 per hour for staff time, you were asked if you wanted to narrow your request. By email on May 5, 2014, you stated you would narrow your request in order to yield a more manageable number of records.
Later on May 5, 2104, you decided that you preferred to go to NCCF to view the emails on a department computer at the prison facility. DOC responded on May 6, 2014, stating that the DOC computers could not be made available for public access, due to the nature of the corrections business. In addition, when you were terminated from your employment at NCCF, you were prohibited from returning to the prison facility. You replied on May 11, 2014, that you wanted to review all emails responsive to your request and select only those you wanted copied instead of paying for copying all responsive records.
On May 16, 2014, DOC provided an update noting that the new search criteria reduced the total number from 11,613 to 739. The projected cost to fulfill your request was $75.00 for search fees (5 hours @ $15.00 per hour) plus a maximum of $110.85 copy fees (739 copies @ $0.15 per copy). The DOC had not yet reviewed the 739 pages to determine if any of the documents could not be released. If so, the copy cost would be less.
On May 19, 2014, it was suggested by this office that a solution might be to transfer the reviewed emails to a storage device such as a CD or flash drive. However, the DOC had paper copies of the requested emails prepared to facilitate the DOC review of the documents and does not have the equipment needed to copy these files. Michael Savala, on behalf of the DOC, offered to allow you to review the documents in paper form at his office in Des Moines and select those you wanted copied. He is prepared to proceed on your request upon receipt of the $75.00 search fee.
You then asked if the documents could be reviewed in Rockwell City. If you are unwilling to go to the location of the records to do your review and determine which records you want copied, you are responsible for paying “any necessary expenses of providing a place for the examination and copying.” (Iowa Code section 22.3) Depending upon travel costs, costs of supervision by the custodian of the records, etc., the costs of an off-site review could be significant.
You next expressed some concerns about the redaction process, asking if you could select the reviewer. You also asked about the grounds for redaction. There are at least 67 grounds for finding all or parts of records confidential. Iowa Code section 22.7 outlines those provisions. You can see these code sections on the IPIB website (www.ipib.iowa.gov). The custodian of the record, or legal counsel, does the initial record review. If you have specific objections to redactions made or records withheld after the records are reviewed, you can file another complaint concerning that. Until then, there is no provision for third party review.
The Iowa Code does not specify the exact amount of time a custodian has to fulfill a records request. Iowa Code section 22.8(4) allows “good faith, reasonable delay by a lawful custodian” to determine if any of the records are confidential. In most cases, this delay should not exceed 10 business days. However, the records you requested were extensive, so it was not unreasonable to require more than 10 business days to process your request. It is also noted that you raised issues having no basis in law which caused delay. The DOC, however, could have been more communicative with you to explain the reasons for any delay and provide a probable time line.
Pursuant to Iowa Administrative Code Rule 497-2.1(3), the IPIB may delegate acceptance or dismissal of a complaint to the Executive Director. The decision of the Executive Director is subject to review by the Board.
Iowa Code Section 23.8 provides two options for action by the IPIB upon receipt of a complaint, the second of which states:
“Determine that, on its face, the complaint is outside its jurisdiction, is legally insufficient, is frivolous, is without merit, involves harmless error, or relates to a specific incident that has previously been finally disposed of on its merits by the board or a court. In such a case the board shall decline to accept the complaint. If the board refuses to accept a complaint, the board shall provide the complainant with a written order explaining its reasons for the action.”
For the reasons set forth above, it is therefore ordered that the complaint is dismissed on the grounds that the alleged violation of Chapter 22 is legally insufficient.
A copy of this Order is being forwarded to the Iowa Public Information Board for review at its next scheduled meeting on June 19, 2014.
Michael Savala, attorney for DOC
Warden Cornell Smith, NCCF