This case presents a question of first impression in this state concerning the extent to which presentence investigation reports in the possession of the department of correction are subject to disclosure under the Personal Data Act, General Statutes §§ 4-190 to 4-197.
The facts are not disputed. The department of correction (hereinafter DOC) maintains personal data files concerning inmates in its custody. After July 1, 1977, when the Personal Data Act, Public Acts 1976, No. 76-421, § 9 (hereinafter the act) became effective, the plaintiff, an inmate confined at the Connecticut Correctional Institution, Somers, filed a written request with the warden for disclosure of all personal data concerning him maintained by the DOC.
As a threshold issue the defendant has raised the jurisdiction of this court to address the subject matter of this appeal. The defendant claims that the present case is an administrative appeal and therefore should have been brought to this court by way of a certification for review.
"Appeals from final judgments or actions of the superior court shall be taken to the supreme court... except for ... administrative appeals as provided for in section 51-197b...." General Statutes § 51-197a. General Statutes § 51-197b, as amended to 1980, provides that appeals from a trial court's
General Statutes § 4-195 provides that any person aggrieved by a refusal of disclosure may "petition the superior court ... for an order requiring the agency to disclose the personal data.... The court, after hearing and an in camera review of the personal data in question, shall issue the order requested unless it determines that such disclosure would be detrimental to the person or is otherwise prohibited by law." The petition filed under this section seeks an independent determination by the court of whether disclosure is required.
The plaintiff claims that the Act requires the disclosure of PSIs. General Statutes § 4-193 (g) provides that "[e]ach agency shall ... [e]xcept as otherwise provided in section 4-194, disclose to a person, upon written request ... all personal data concerning him which is maintained by the agency." It is undisputed that the DOC is an agency for purposes of the act.
PSIs result from a presentence inquiry
"If an agency determines ... that nondisclosure to a person of personal data concerning him is ... permitted or required by law, the agency may refuse to disclose that personal data, and shall refuse disclosure where required by law." General Statutes § 4-194 (a); see General Statutes § 4-195. The trial court held that Practice Book § 917, which limits postsentencing access to PSIs to certain nonpublic contexts, is a law requiring nondisclosure to the plaintiff. Practice Book § 917 provides that "[t]he presentence investigation report shall not be a public record and shall not be accessible to the public. It shall be available initially to the parties... for use in the sentencing hearing and in any subsequent proceedings wherein the same conviction may be involved, and it shall be available at all times to the following: (1) The department of adult probation; (2) The correctional or mental health institution to which the defendant is committed; (3) The board of parole; (4) The board of pardons; (5) The sentence review division of the superior court; (6) The judicial review council; (7) Any court of proper jurisdiction where it is relevant to any proceeding before such court. Such court may also order that the report be made available to counsel for the parties for the purpose of such proceeding; (8) Counsel for the defendant and the prosecuting authority during negotiations relating to other offenses pending against the defendant or subsequently charged against him; and (9) Counsel for the defendant in a sentence review hearing or habeas corpus proceeding upon counsel's request to the department of adult probation." This provision protects the defendant, the plaintiff herein,
Disclosure under the act does not result in public review of PSIs. It permits access to a person only
The Superior Court is empowered to adopt and promulgate rules "regulating pleading, practice and procedure in judicial proceedings in courts in which they have the constitutional authority to make rules, for the purpose of simplifying proceedings in the courts and of promoting the speedy and efficient determination of litigation upon its merits. Such rules shall not abridge, enlarge or modify any substantive right...." General Statutes § 51-14 (a). The act creates a substantive right of access to personal data maintained by agencies which does not encroach upon the operation or structure of the courts. Just as the general assembly lacks the power to enact rules governing procedure that is exclusively within the power of the courts; Conn. Const., art. V § 1; State v. Clemente, supra, 510-11, 516; so do the courts lack the power to promulgate rules governing substantive rights and remedies. General Statutes § 51-14 (a); State v. Clemente, supra, 509-10; see State v. Rodriquez, 180 Conn. 382, 385-86, 429 A.2d 919 (1980). Additionally the court rules themselves are expressly limited in scope to practice and procedure in the Superior Court; Practice Book § 1; and do not purport to reach beyond
There is error; the judgment is set aside and the case is remanded with direction to render judgment in accordance with this opinion.
In this opinion PETERS and PARSKEY, JS., concurred.
SHEA, J. (dissenting). The issue here is not one of confrontation between the constitutional powers of the judiciary and the legislature but simply of legislative intention. It must be borne in mind that when the Personal Data Act became effective on July 1, 1977,
Unless § 917 exceeds the judicial power, both statutory and constitutional, to adopt rules of practice, it is "law" and its restrictions upon availability of the PSI must have been accepted by the legislature in the exclusion created by § 4-194 (a) from the Personal Data Act requirements. "[C]ourts have an inherent power, independent of statutory authorization, to prescribe rules to regulate their proceedings and facilitate the administration of justice as they deem necessary." State v. Clemente, supra, 514. It was in the exercise of this power that the judges of the Superior Court adopted § 917 in 1976 as part of a major revision of the rules of criminal procedure.
The majority opinion does not question the power of the judges to adopt the prohibitions against public access to the PSI under their authority to "facilitate the administration of justice." Only the restriction upon a defendant's access after his PSI comes into the possession of the institution to which he has been committed is found to be invalid. The portion of Practice Book § 917 allowing correctional or mental health institutions to receive a copy of the report for an inmate committed to their custody was inserted to conform the rule to General Statutes § 54-91a which contains a similar provision. This accommodation of the legislative will by the judiciary can hardly be given the effect of invalidating restrictions upon disclosure which would otherwise come within the judicial power. The legislature
In this opinion WRIGHT, J., concurred.
"(b) Nothing in section ... 1-19 ... shall be construed to require disclosure of ... (3) records of law enforcement agencies not otherwise available to the public which records were compiled in connection with the detection or investigation of crime, if the disclosure of said records would not be in the public interest because it would result in the disclosure of (A) the identity of informants not otherwise known, (B) information to be used in a prospective law enforcement action if prejudicial to such action, (C) investigatory techniques not otherwise known to the general public, or (D) arrest records of a juvenile, which shall also include any investigatory files, concerning the arrest of such juvenile, compiled for law enforcement purposes...."
Because PSIs are not connected with the detection or investigation of a crime; see State v. Gullette, 3 Conn. Cir. 153, 167, 209 A.2d 529 (1964); this exception to the definition of "personal data" does not apply to them.
"No defendant convicted of a crime, other than a capital felony, the punishment for which may include imprisonment for more than one year, shall be sentenced, or his case otherwise disposed of, until a written report of investigation by a probation officer has been presented to and considered by the court, if (1) the defendant is so convicted for the first time in this state or (2) his record, as shown by the prosecuting official, discloses a conviction obtained prior to three years from the finding of guilty in the present prosecution; but any court may, in its discretion, order a presentence investigation for a defendant convicted of any crime or offense other than a capital felony. Whenever an investigation is required, the probation officer shall promptly inquire into the circumstances of the offense, the attitude of the complainant or victim, or of the immediate family where possible in cases of homicide, and the criminal record, social history and present condition of the defendant. All local and state police agencies shall furnish to the probation officer such criminal records as the probation officer may request. When in the opinion of the court or the investigating authority it is desirable, such investigation shall include a physical and mental examination of the defendant. If the defendant is committed to any institution, the investigating agency shall send the reports of such investigation to the institution at the time of commitment."
Section 5 of Public Acts 1978, No. 78-188, effective July 1, 1978, added "and restitution specialist" after "probation officer" in two places in the third sentence. Section 48 of Public Acts 1980, No. 80-313, effective October 1, 1980, substituted "may" for "shall" in the first sentence and divided the section into two subsections.
One purpose of providing a copy of the PSI to the defendant or his counsel before sentencing is to review the accuracy of the information contained therein. See General Statutes § 54-91b (formerly § 54-109a); State v. Harmon, 147 Conn. 125, 129, 157 A.2d 594 (1960). Before sentencing the trial court must hear motions addressing the accuracy of the PSI. General Statutes § 54-91b. The defendants have not advanced any policy reason for distinguishing access to a PSI after sentencing from access before sentencing for purposes of determining its accuracy.