Lowthert wins another FOI case

Town resident Marissa Lowthert has again emerged victorious in a Freedom of Information lawsuit, this time against the town of Wilton and the state Freedom of Information Commission regarding the Miller-Driscoll Building Committee’s vote by email that the plaintiff argued was illegal.

Judge Sheila A. Huddleston of Superior Court in the Judicial District of New Britain issued the decision Jan. 18.

This is a de novo issue, Huddleston said. It will get remanded to the FOIC to determine penalties, like fines against the MDBC or if they will declare the meeting null and void.

She won a similar FOI battle last year.

The Miller-Driscoll Building Committee had to cancel a meeting on Feb. 11, 2014, because of an impending snowstorm, according to the judge’s decision. Although the committee’s role was advisory and its recommendation was not binding on the Board of Selectmen, the committee’s chairman and vice chairman believed that the committee had developed a consensus and that it would be helpful if they could present that to the Board of Selectmen as a unanimous position. After canceling the meeting, they sent an email to the committee members, asking them to vote on the two proposals to be presented to the Board of Selectmen the following week. On March 13, 2014, the committee chairman, Bruce Hampson, reported that the committee had voted unanimously by email to recommend option No. 1 to the Board of Selectmen.

Lowthert alleges that she first learned of the email vote on June 17, 2014, while reviewing 445 pages of emails given to her in response to an unrelated records request.

The court concluded that any relief beyond a remand to the commission for further proceedings is unnecessary.