Little v. Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, 021820 PACCA, 489 C.D. 2019

Docket Nº:489 C.D. 2019
Opinion Judge:MARY HANNAH LEAVITT, PRESIDENT JUDGE
Party Name:Shawn Little, Petitioner v. Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, Respondent
Judge Panel:BEFORE: HONORABLE MARY HANNAH LEAVITT, PRESIDENT JUDGE HONORABLE MICHAEL H. WOJCIK, JUDGE HONORABLE ELLEN CEISLER, JUDGE
Case Date:February 18, 2020
Court:Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania
 
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Shawn Little, Petitioner

v.

Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, Respondent

No. 489 C.D. 2019

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

February 18, 2020

OPINION NOT REPORTED

Submitted: August 23, 2019

BEFORE: HONORABLE MARY HANNAH LEAVITT, PRESIDENT JUDGE HONORABLE MICHAEL H. WOJCIK, JUDGE HONORABLE ELLEN CEISLER, JUDGE

MEMORANDUM OPINION

MARY HANNAH LEAVITT, PRESIDENT JUDGE

Shawn Little (Requester), pro se, petitions for review of a final determination of the Office of Open Records (OOR) dismissing as untimely his appeal of the Department of Corrections' (Department) denial of his request for documents under the Right-to-Know Law.[1] Requester argues that his appeal was not untimely under the "prisoner mailbox rule." We vacate and remand.

On December 7, 2018, Requester, an inmate incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill (SCI-Camp Hill), filed a request for records from the Department. Specifically, Requester requested (1) copies of all subpoenas served on the Department by Eva C. Stroup seeking telephone recordings of calls made by Requester at SCI-Camp Hill; and (2) a copy of a report filed by an agent from the Bureau of Investigation and Intelligence on October 5, 2018, concerning the subpoenas.

On December 10, 2018, the Department sent Requester a letter informing him that it would require a 30-day extension to consider the request.2Seemingly unaware of the 30-day extension, Requester appealed to OOR on December 24, 2018, claiming the Department had failed to respond to his request within the required five-day period, resulting in a deemed denial. The Department responded that the appeal was premature because it had informed Requester of the 30-day extension. On January 28, 2019, OOR issued a final determination dismissing Requester's appeal as premature, but stating that Requester was not prohibited from filing a new appeal once the Department responded to his request.

The Department issued its response to the records request on December 31, 2018. The Department found that the requested records were exempt from disclosure under several provisions of the Right-to-Know Law, i.e., the personal security exemption, 3 the public safety exemption,

4 the criminal investigation exemption5 and the noncriminal investigation exemption.6 As such, the request was denied.

On February 26, 2019, Requester filed a second appeal to OOR. Therein, Requester explained that he received OOR's January 28, 2019, final determination on February 6, 2019. He filed the second appeal in accordance with OOR's instruction that he could do so after he received the Department's merits response to his Right-to-Know Law request. Requester asserted that he mailed the appeal on February 15, 2019, which was "nine days after receiving [OOR's final determination and in compliance with] the Prison[er] Mailbox Rule[.]" Certified Record (C.R.), Item 4, Attachment D at 7.

On...

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