|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
February 26, 1999
Mr. Lou Bright
Dear Mr. Bright:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under the Texas Open Records Act, chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 122452.
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (the "commission") received a request for information concerning Aramark Sports ("Aramark"). You assert that the submitted information is excepted from required public disclosure under sections 552.101 and 552.103 of the Government Code.(1)
Section 552.103(a) of the Government Code excepts from required public disclosure information
(1) relating to litigation of a civil or criminal nature or settlement negotiations, to which the state or a political subdivision is or may be a party or to which an officer or employee of the state or a political subdivision as a consequence of the person's office or employment, is or may be a party; and
(2) that the attorney general or the attorney of the political subdivision has determined should be withheld from public inspection.
To secure the protection of section 552.103(a), a governmental body must demonstrate that the requested information "relates" to a pending or reasonably anticipated judicial or quasi-judicial proceeding. Open Records Decision No. 588 (1991).
You explain that the submitted information concerns pending settlement negotiations between the commission and one of its permittees, Aramark. Furthermore, you state that if an agreed settlement is not reached, the submitted information will become the basis of an administrative case prosecuted by the commission's legal department against Aramark. In this instance, you have made the requisite showing that the submitted information relates to reasonably anticipated litigation for purposes of section 552.103(a). We note, however, that section 552.103(a) does not apply to basic information. Open Records Decision No. 597 (1991). Therefore, except for basic information, the requested records may be withheld.(2)
You also seek to withhold certain bracketed information on the offense report under section 552.101 of the Government Code in conjunction with the informer's privilege. As previously noted, the commission must release basic information to the requestor. However, in this instance, the bracketed information is not basic information as discussed in Houston Chronicle Publ'g Co. v. City of Houston, 531 S.W.2d 177 (Tex. Civ. App.--Houston [14th Dist.] 1975), writ ref'd n.r.e. per curiam, 536 S.W.2d 559 (Tex. 1976). See Open Records Decision No. 127 (1976) (summarizing the types of information deemed public by Houston Chronicle). Consequently, the commission may withhold the bracketed information under section 552.103(a).
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.
June B. Harden
Ref.: ID# 122452
Enclosures: Submitted documents
cc: Ms. Jocelyn Lane
1. We presume, and it appears, that you have released the remaining requested information. See Gov't Code § 552.301.
2. We note, however, that the submitted documents contain a copy of a temporary license. The license
has obviously been provided to the opposing party. Once the opposing party in the anticipated litigation has
seen or had access to any of the information in these records, there would be no justification for now
withholding that information from the requestor pursuant to section 552.103(a). Open Records Decision
Nos. 349 (1982), 320 (1982). Therefore, the commission must release a copy of the license to the requestor.
In addition, the applicability of section 552.103(a) ends once the litigation has been concluded. Attorney
General Opinion MW-575 (1982); Open Records Decision No. 350 (1982).
POST OFFICE BOX 12548, AUSTIN, TEXAS 78711-2548 TEL: (512) 463-2100 WEB: WWW.OAG.STATE.TX.US