-- i.e the Connecticut State Police; the CSP.
Mert Melfa has published the hearing and you may watch it here:
The Commission kept control of Wilson and Halbig
What a difference a decent hearing officer makes. Opposite of Commissioner Streeter, this hearing officer controlled the hearing.
Connecticut Attorney L. Kay Wilson, ever the unprofessional, came ready to go off on irrelevant tangents; however, it was not allowed.
Kay Wilson wanted to discuss items unrelated to FOIA, such as Halbigs wild eyed ideas; thankfully, this hearing officer did not allow any Halbig/Wilson nonsense and kept them on task and discussing documents. This was Commissioner Streeter's major failure at the first hearing. Any time Wilson wanted to steer the hearing into her hoaxer wonderland, the hearing officer, Attorney Victor Perpetua, stopped Wilson dead in her tracks.
The hearing was held timely and was not a two-day grandstanding and show boat session by Halbig and Wilson. There were no uncontrolled hoaxer outbursts screaming about Connecticut Mafia; no child-like temper tantrums by Halbig. Halbig had one uncontrollable outburst and the hearing officer told him to control himself.
Well done to Hearing Officer Perpetua.
The hearing concerned
As to the Dash Cams, CSP is claiming exemption as "evidence" and refers the Commission to the Altimari appeal pending before the Superior Court. The Altimari appeal has been covered by this blog extensively.
CSP's argument seems a non-starter. Courts, coast to coast, have ruled fairly consistently that Dash Cams are public record.
When SHF FOI'd the exact same Dash Cams at issue here, Sinko and Seabrook were produced. Newtown claimed exemption under Conn Gen Stat 1-210 (b)3(B) (Disclosing the identity of minor witnesses) for the Bahamonde and Chapman videos. Newtown, therefore, utilizes a much more solid legal reason for denying release of the two videos.
This above is a screenshot from Chapman's vehicle. Most teachers and children exited the North East Corner door of the school and walked down that side walk area to the firehouse; therefore, many children would have walked right in front of this camera. Further, Chapman's audio captured that last final shots fired. The written time lines in the report affirm both videos show exiting children.
While the CSP can choose to redact and release, FOIA laws does not require redactions; therefore, they cannot order CSP to redact the children.
I noted that in the hearing CSP Legal Affairs Officer Ms. Plourde made it a point to state that she had not reviewed the dash cams. I think that holds the door open for a renewed appeal against releasing the documents based on 1-210(b)(3)(B) once she "reviews" the Dash Cam footage.
CSP will save that for another day, in my opinion. An ace in the hole that could be insurmountable by Halbig and his funds.
Court Appeal will be forthcoming
CSP made it fairly clear they are not going to release the Dash Cams pending court ruling. The FOI Hearing Officer made it clear they were going to order them released, as they are obviously public records. Therefore, the stage is set for an appeal and court process. That will be up to Halbig to undertake.
Signed Police Statements
The statements CSP admits exist are Chief Kehoe, Capt Rios, and Lt. Venghele. CSP claims the statements are signed witness statements and are exempt due to Conn Gen Stat 1-210 (b)3(C) (specifically exempts "Signed Witness Statements".) Halbig contends they are public records.
The hearing officer wants to be briefed by both parties as to whether the statements are public records and whether they are subject to the exemption. The hearing officer gave both parties two weeks to submit their briefs.
My bet, Kay Wilson will likely be very lazy here and that will cost Halbig.
It will be interesting to read the briefs to see what has been ruled in the past. Intuitively, it seems police statements are public records; however, it's obvious the CSP is simply not going to willingly release information it thinks will harm the Newtown families.
That is really the unspoken bottom line, here.
My feeling is Halbig will prevail on most claims; however, CSP will not comply without a long fight. This is Round 1 and CSP did not even play all their cards. CSP has been down this road with the FOIA Commission many times.
The "document" side of me does not see much harm in releasing these particular documents; however, the empathetic side of me understands why Connecticut does not want to release the videos of their children to be spread throughout the internet and to hoaxer predators. It's a real catch 22.
On the other side of the catch are Wolfgang's motives. His motives are greed, meanness, cold hard cash, and fundraisers. Halbig has raised nearly $100,000 off of stunts like this. This just might be a spring board for more cash for his pockets. For him, today was a win.
L. Kay Wilson should be sanctioned
Demonstrating her unprofessional willingness to maliciously go after innocent Newtown residents, L. Kay Wilson issued an unscrupulous (if not illegal) subpoena to Newtown Bee reporter Shannon Hicks. Ms. Hicks took time and money to appear and was thus damaged by Wilson's act.
When L. Kay Wilson outlined her case for the Hearing Officer, she made no mention of anything having to do with Ms. Hicks.
Obviously, Ms. Hicks has no information that could be reasonably calculated to lead to relevant information as to documents in possession of CSP; therefore, the subpoena was frivolous.
It would be nice to see a complaint filed against L. Kay Wilson and to her see her sanctioned for her disgraceful abuse of process and harm caused to an innocent Newtown resident.