OPINION NOT REPORTED
MEMORANDUM OPINION PER CURIAM
John C. Stein (Requester), an inmate at SCI-Smithfield, petitions for review of the Final Determination of the Office of Open Records (OOR) that denied his appeal from the decision of the Agency Open Records Officer (AORO) of the Department of Corrections (Department). The AORO granted, in part, Requester's request for the salaries and benefit information of the Department's employees at SCI-Smithfield but denied, in part, Requester's request insofar as the AORO stated that the first names of the corrections officers would be redacted. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the Final Determination of the OOR.
Requester initially requested "the names, salaries, ranks and information regarding employee benefits" for almost all of the Department's employees at SCI-Smithfield. (Final Determination at 2.) The AORO supplied this information, but redacted the first names of the corrections officers. Requester submitted a second request on March 13, 2009, requesting the corrections officers' first names. The AORO issued a decision on April 24, 2009, granting Requester access to all of the information requested except for first names
Requester appealed the AORO's decision to the OOR on May 18, 2009. The OOR issued a letter to the parties on May 18, 2009, stating that the matter was being assigned to an Appeals Officer and inviting the parties to submit additional information. The Department submitted the declaration (Declaration) of Major Timothy Riskus, Chief of Security for the Department. In his Declaration, Major Riskus stated that the job of a corrections officer involves a risk of physical harm and that, because of the nature of their duties, corrections officers may become the targets of hostility from inmates. Major Riskus stated that knowing the corrections officers' first names would facilitate retaliation by inmates against corrections officers and their families. On June 17, 2009, the OOR issued the Final Determination. The Final Determination denied Requester's request on the basis of Section 708(b)(1)(ii)'s personal security exemption. Requester now petitions this Court for review.
Before this Court, Requester argues that:
We first address Requester's Request for Judicial Notice. In the Request for Judicial Notice, Requester asks this Court to take judicial notice of three documents. The first is titled "Comprehensive Paging System Request Form," and it lists Requester as the inmate name and contains a signature with the first and last name of a corrections officer. The second is a memo regarding suspension of contact visits (Suspension Memo). The name of the inmate appearing on the Suspension Memo has been redacted. The Suspension Memo states that it is from a security lieutenant and lists the lieutenant's first and last name. The third document is a Misconduct Report. The inmate's name appearing on the Misconduct Report is redacted, as is the name of the ranking corrections officer on duty who reviewed and approved the Misconduct Report. It contains a first and last name in the space for the reporting corrections officer.
This Court will not take judicial notice of the documents offered by Requester. Rule 201 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Evidence provides that a court, upon request by a party, shall take judicial notice of a fact that is "not subject to reasonable dispute in that it is . . . (2) capable of accurate and ready determination by resort to sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned." Pa. R.E. 201(b). We do not agree that the documents submitted by Requester are "sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned." Pa. R.E. 201(b)(2). While these documents appear to be official Department forms, their provenance is unknown. This Court does not know how Requester came into possession of these documents, nor do we know whether they have been altered from their original form. In fact, two of the documents have been significantly redacted. It is not apparent how this Court could independently verify the information contained in these documents. This is different from other cases in which this Court has taken, or upheld the taking of, judicial notice of facts which were readily available from sources generally available to the public.
We now turn to the merits of the case. Initially, we note that, although the parties do not frame their arguments as such, the information sought by Requester is a financial record under the RTKL. Section 102 of the RTKL defines a financial record as including "[t]he salary or other payments or expenses paid to an officer or employee of an agency, including the name and title of the officer or employee." 65 P.S. § 67.102(2). Section 708(c) of the RTKL provides that "[t]he exceptions set forth in subsection (b) shall not apply to financial records, except that an agency may redact that portion of a financial record protected under subsection (b)(1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (6), (16) or (17)." 65 P.S. § 67.102(c) (emphasis added). Therefore, if the first names of the corrections officers are properly encompassed by the personal security exemption found at Section 708(b)(1)(ii), it was properly within the discretion of the Department to redact this information.
This Court agrees with the OOR and the Department that the corrections officers' first names fall within the personal security exemption found at Section 708(b)(1)(ii). Section 708(b)(1)(ii) states that records exempt from disclosure under the RTKL include records whose disclosure "would be reasonably likely to result in a substantial and demonstrable risk of physical harm to or the personal security of an individual." 65 P.S. § 67.708(b)(1)(ii). Section 708(a)(1) states that "[t]he burden of proving that a record of a Commonwealth agency or local agency is exempt from public access shall be on the Commonwealth agency or local agency receiving a request by a preponderance of the evidence." 65 P.S. § 67.708(a)(1). In this case, in support of its argument that disclosure of the corrections officers' first names "would be reasonably likely to result in a substantial and demonstrable risk of physical harm to or the personal security of an individual," 65 P.S. § 67.708(b)(1)(ii), the Department submitted the Declaration. Requester argues that the Declaration is not sufficient evidence to support the OOR's determination, in that the Declaration only postulates speculative harm to corrections officers. We disagree.
In the Declaration, Major Riskus states that corrections officers are targets of hostility from inmates because corrections officers are charged with enforcing discipline on the inmates. (Declaration ¶ 7). Major Riskus also states that not only is disclosure of the corrections officers' first names likely to cause a risk of harm to corrections officers and their families, but that such harm has occurred in the past:
(Declaration ¶ 8.) We accept Major Riskus's statements that disclosure of the corrections officers' first names is reasonably likely to cause a demonstrable and substantial risk of physical or financial harm to the personal security of corrections officers and their families. In doing so, this Court is mindful that Requester is an inmate of the Department, and that "[a] prison setting involves unique concerns and security risks."
Requester argues that the corrections officers are in no more danger of retaliation than are other law enforcement officials, and that this Court allowed the disclosure of the names of law enforcement officials under the former Act commonly known as the Right to Know Act (Act)
Requester argues that, as a requester of documents under the RTKL, he stands in the position of the public at large, per
For these reasons, we affirm the Final Determination of the OOR denying Requester's appeal.
DISSENTING OPINION PER CURIAM
I respectfully dissent. The majority holds, based on the "Declaration of Timothy Riskus" (Riskus Declaration), that the first names of corrections officers are exempt from disclosure as public records under the personal security exception at section 708(b)(1)(ii) of the Right-to-Know Law
John C. Stein (Requester), an inmate, requested the first names of certain corrections officers working for the Department of Corrections (Department). The Department denied the request, and Requester appealed to the Office of Open Records (OOR). The Department submitted the Riskus Declaration to the OOR. Riskus, who is Chief of Security for the Department, stated:
(Declaration at 2) (emphasis added). Based on the Riskus Declaration, the OOR affirmed the Department's denial of the request, and Requester appealed to this court.
I. Public Information by Law
Pursuant to section 614(a) of The Administrative Code of 1929 (Administrative Code),
Words in a statute are to be construed according to their common and approved usage. Section 1903(a) of the Statutory Construction Act of 1972, 1 Pa. C.S. §1903(a). By definition, a person's "name" is his or her distinctive and specific appellation, the words by which an individual is regularly known. Webster's Third New International Dictionary 1501 (2002). Thus, a person's name includes his or her first name, which means that a corrections officer's first name is public information under section 614(c) of the Administrative Code.
Moreover, statutes in pari materia, i.e., statutes that relate to the same thing, must be construed together, if possible, as one statute. Section 1932 of the Statutory Construction Act of 1972, 1 Pa. C.S. §1932. In section 614(c) of the Administrative Code, the legislature made
II. Case Law
In Times Publishing Company v. Michel, 633 A.2d 1233, 1239 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1993), appeal denied, 538 Pa. 618, 645 A.2d 1321 (1994) (emphasis added) (quoting Young v. Armstrong School District, 344 A.2d 738, 740 (1975)), this court stated that "for records to fall within the personal security exception they must be intrinsically harmful and
Moreover, we held in Michel that, although the public disclosure of the home addresses, telephone numbers and social security numbers of persons in law enforcement falls under the personal security exception, the public disclosure of their names does not implicate the same concerns. Thus, the majority's holding is contrary to Michel.
The majority attempts to distinguish Michel based on the identity of the requester, i.e., based on the fact that the requester in Michel was not an inmate. In other words, the majority
III. Insufficiency of Evidence
The Riskus Declaration never explicitly states that the disclosure of the first name of a corrections officer to the public has resulted in physical harm to the corrections officer. In fact, the Declaration is carefully worded to avoid saying that. Riskus states that corrections officers have been harmed by the dissemination of information "such as is requested here." This vague statement can mean only that public dissemination of other kinds of personal information about corrections officers has harmed them. Indeed, Riskus states that disclosure of first names will "further" enable inmates to harm corrections officers.
Finally, the majority states, "Here, the Department argues that it has a policy of restricting inmates from knowing the first names of corrections officers, and that this policy is intended to protect corrections officers and those close to them." (Majority op. at 7-8.) There is absolutely no evidence in the record regarding a Department policy of restricting inmates from knowing the first names of corrections officers. Yet, the majority accepts the Department's bald assertion as a fact and notes that the "Department's policy is not negated because some corrections officers have not complied with it." (Majority op. at 8 n.5.)
For all of the foregoing reasons, I would reverse.
(Requester's Br. at 5.)