|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
February 1, 1999
Mr. John M. Knight
Dear Mr. Knight:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under the Texas Open Records Act (the "act"), chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 122278.
The City of Arlington (the "city") received a request for "all" arrest and criminal records of a specified individual. In response to the request, you submit to this office for review the information at issue. You claim that the requested information is excepted from disclosure under sections 552.101 and 552.108 of the Government Code. We have considered the exceptions and arguments you have raised and reviewed the submitted information.
Section 552.101 excepts from required public disclosure information that is confidential by law, and encompasses information protected under common-law privacy. Industrial Found. v. Texas Indus. Accident Bd., 540 S.W.2d 668 (Tex. 1976), cert. denied, 430 U.S. 931 (1977). To the extent that the requestor is asking for all records in which the named individual is identified as a "suspect," the requestor, in essence, is asking that the city compile that individual's criminal history. Where an individual's criminal history information has been compiled by a governmental entity, the information takes on a character that implicates the individual's right to privacy. See United States Dep't of Justice v. Reporters Comm. for Freedom of the Press, 489 U.S. 749 (1989) (concluding that federal regulations which limit access to criminal history record information that states obtain from the federal government or other states recognize privacy interest in such information). Similarly, open records decisions issued by this office acknowledge this privacy interest. See Open Records Decision Nos. 616 (1993), 565 (1990). The city, therefore, must withhold all compilations of the referenced individual's criminal history pursuant to section 552.101. Because of the form of the request, the city must withhold the requested information in this instance.
As we resolve this matter under section 552.101, we do not address the applicability of section 552.108. We are resolving this matter with an informal letter ruling rather than with a published open records decision. This ruling is limited to the particular records at issue under the facts presented to us in this request and should not be relied on as a previous determination regarding any other records. If you have any questions regarding this ruling, please contact our office.
Ref.: ID# 122278
Enclosures: Submitted documents
cc: Ms. Pamela Zeller
POST OFFICE BOX 12548, AUSTIN, TEXAS 78711-2548 TEL: (512) 463-2100 WEB: WWW.OAG.STATE.TX.US