FOI Update: State Releases Personnel Records – Just Not to The Scoop

by Categorized: Employment, Law Enforcement, Legal Affairs, Media, Transparency/FOI Date:

Last week, The Scoop wrote about a Danbury News-Times article revealing disturbing allegations, dating back 20 years, against a prosecutor in the Danbury courthouse. In the article, current and former officials refused to comment on incidents involving the prosecutor, citing – as officials often do – a purported prohibition on disclosing information about “personnel matters.”

As The Scoop noted, there is no such prohibition, and in fact under Connecticut law, agencies are required, with limited exceptions, to release documents related to the conduct of the public’s employees. To illustrate that point, The Scoop filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking access to records of misconduct by the prosecutor, Senior Assistant State’s Attorney David M. Holzbach, who has been on paid leave for several months, following allegations that he was secretly photographing female attorneys.

Less than a week after the FOI letter went out, records from Holzbach’s personnel file have been released – just not to The Scoop. The Danbury News-Times has an article this morning revealing that women complained to state officials about Holzbach photographing or videotaping them in 1992, 2002, 2006 and last April, but until now, Holzbach never faced harsher action than a reprimand.

The Scoop is an competitive as anyone in the journalism business, but in this case, the goal was to get the information out, and use the case as a reminder that under our state’s law, the public’s business is the public’s business. Kudos to The News-Times and reporter John Pirro for breaking the story and staying with it.

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