Submitted On Briefs: November 29, 2017
Anctil, appellant pro se.
Mills, Attorney General, and Kelly L. Morrell, Asst. Atty.
Gen., Office of the Attorney General, Augusta, for appellee
Department of Corrections et al.
SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, JABAR, and HUMPHREY, JJ.
Steve Anctil appeals from the judgment of the Superior Court
(Kennebec County, Stokes, J.) upholding the
redactions made by the Department of Corrections in certain
documents it sent to Anctil pursuant to Anctil's Freedom
of Access Act (FOAA) request. 1 M.R.S. §§ 400-414
(2016).On appeal to this Court, Anctil argues that
the Department's redactions were improper. Because select
portions of the produced documents were improperly redacted
and select portions of the produced documents were properly
redacted, we vacate in part and affirm in part.
The procedural facts are taken from the trial court
record. See Hughes Bros. v. Town of
Eddington, 2016 ME 13, ¶ 2, 130 A.3d 978.
In September of 2015, Anctil sent a letter to the Department
requesting, pursuant to FOAA,
a copy of any and all records regarding any and all
complaints, charges and accusations that are not
classified as confidential and resulted in disciplinary
action, as well as any other information or materials
that are not classified as confidential and resulted in
disciplinary action for the following past and present
Maine Department of Corrections - Corrections Officers.
letter listed almost thirty employees of the Maine State
Prison or the Department about whom he was requesting the
above information. The Department produced sixteen documents,
but redacted portions of some documents that it determined
were confidential pursuant to 34-A M.R.S. § 1216 (2016)
and 5 M.R.S. § 7070 (2016).
On March 28, 2016, Anctil filed an appeal in the Superior
Court pursuant to 1 M.R.S. § 409(1), challenging the
Department's redactions of the requested records.
Specifically, Anctil challenged the redactions in the
documents labeled "PRODUCED0001, "
"PRODUCED0005, " "PRODUCED0006,
" "PRODUCED0007, " and
"PRODUCED0012" (all redacted documents hereafter
referred to by number). After an in camera inspection of the
documents, the court issued a decision on February 27, 2017,
stating that it was "satisfied that the material
withheld from the Plaintiff was properly redacted because
that material was designated confidential by statute"
and finding that the redaction of the documents was "for
just and proper cause" pursuant to 1 M.R.S. §
409(1). On March 17, 2017, Anctil timely appealed to us.
See 14 M.R.S. § 1851 (2016); M.R. App. P. 2
"In reviewing whether a government entity complied with
the FOAA, we review factual findings for clear error, but
review the trial court's interpretation of the FOAA de
novo." Hughes Bros.,2016 ME 13, ¶2l, 130
A.3d 978 (citation omitted). "When interpreting a
statute, we accord its words their plain meaning."
Id. (quotation marks omitted). "The exceptions
to the Act's disclosure requirement are strictly
construed to promote the Act's underlying policies and