|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
March 10, 1999
Mr. Richard Brown
Dear Mr. Brown:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID # 122809.
The Dallas Police Department (the "department"), which your office represents, received a request for information, concerning Dallas Police Department Case #0565780-C and related cases #0565786-C & #056773-C. In response to the request, you submitted to this office for review a copy of the records, which you assert are responsive. You assert that the information is excepted from disclosure pursuant to sections 552.101 and 552.108 of the Government Code. We have considered your arguments and have reviewed the information submitted.(1)
Initially, we note that included among the submitted information you seek to withhold is an accident report form that appears to have been completed pursuant to chapter 550 of the Transportation Code. See Transp. Code § 550.064 (officer's accident report). We note that section 550.065 of the Transportation Code concerns the disclosure of accident report information. However, a Travis County district court has issued a temporary injunction enjoining the enforcement of the amendment to section 550.065 of the Transportation Code. Texas Daily Newspaper Ass'n, v. Morales, No. 97-08930 (345th Dist. Ct., Travis County, Tex., Oct. 24, 1997) (second amended agreed temporary injunction). A temporary injunction preserves the status quo until the final hearing of a case on its merits. Janus Films, Inc. v. City of Fort Worth, 163 Tex. 616, 617, 358 S.W.2d 589 (1962). The Supreme Court has defined the status quo as "the last, actual peaceable, non-contested status that preceded the pending controversy." Texas v. Southwestern Bell Tel. Co. 526 S.W.2d 526, 528 (Tex. 1975). The status quo of accident report information prior to the enactment of S.B. 1069 is governed by section 47 of article 6701d, V.T.C.S.
Section 47(b)(1) provides that:
The Department or a law enforcement agency employing a peace officer who made an accident report is required to release a copy of the report on request to:
. . . .
(D) a person who provides the Department or the law
enforcement agency with two or more of the following:
(i) the date of the accident;
(ii) the name of any person involved in the accident; or
(iii) the specific location of the accident
V.T.C.S. art. 6701d, § 47(b)(1) (emphasis added). Under this provision, a law enforcement agency "is required to release" a copy of an accident report to a person who provides the law enforcement agency with two or more pieces of information specified by the statute. Id. In the situation at hand, the requestor has not provided the department with the statutorily required information. Thus, you must withhold the accident report under section 47(b)(1)(D) of article 6701d, V.T.C.S.
We will next consider whether the remaining information, other than the accident report, may be withheld pursuant to section 552.108, the "law enforcement exception." Section 552.108 provides in relevant part as follows:
(a) [i]nformation held by a law enforcement agency or prosecutor that deals with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime is excepted from the requirements of 552.021 if: (1) release of the information would interfere with the detection, investigation or prosecution of crime; [or] (2) it is information that deals with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime only in relation to an investigation that did not result in conviction or deferred adjudication.
You state that the requested information relates to a prosecution in which there is a further pending investigation. As the requested information relates to a pending criminal prosecution, we find that release of the requested information would interfere with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime.
We note that certain basic information normally found on the front page of an offense report, including a detailed description of the offense, is generally considered public. See Gov't Code § 552.108(c). Basic information is the type of information that is considered to be front page offense report information, even if this information is not actually located on the front page of the offense report. 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); Open Records Decision No. 127 (1976). Therefore, except for basic information normally found on the front page of an offense report, you may withhold the remaining information from disclosure pursuant to section 552.108(a)(1). You may choose, however, to release all or part of the information at issue that is not otherwise confidential by law. Gov't Code § 552.007.
Since we have resolved this request under section 552.108 of the Government Code, we need not address your other claims. 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 upon as a previous determination regarding any other records. If you have questions about this ruling, please contact our office.
David Van Brunt Price
Ref: ID# 122809
Enclosures: Submitted documents
cc: Mr. Cleon Walden
1. We assume that the "representative sample" of records submitted to this office is truly representative
of the requested records as a whole. See Open Records Decision Nos. 499 (1988), 497 (1988). This open
records letter does not reach, and therefore does not authorize the withholding of, any other requested records
to the extent that those records contain substantially different types of information than that submitted to this
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