|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
March 25, 1999
Mr. Peter G. Smith
Dear Mr. Smith:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 123191.
The City of Coppell (the "city"), which you represent, received a request for two offense reports. You contend that one offense report is excepted from disclosure under section 552.101 of the Government Code in conjunction with section 58.007 of the Family Code. You also contend that both offense reports are excepted from disclosure pursuant to section 552.108 of the Government Code. We have considered the exceptions you claim and have reviewed the documents at issue.
Section 552.101 of the Government Code excepts from disclosure "information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision." Section 552.101 encompasses confidentiality provisions such as section 58.007 of the Family Code. Juvenile law enforcement records relating to conduct that occurred on or after September 1, 1997 are confidential under section 58.007. The relevant language of section 58.007(c) reads as follows:
(c) Except as provided by Subsection (d), law enforcement records and files concerning a child may not be disclosed to the public and shall be:
(1) kept separate from adult files and records; and
(2) maintained on a local basis only and not sent to a central state or federal depository, except as provided by Subchapter B.
Offense report number 98-46139 relates to juvenile conduct that occurred after September 1, 1997. Section 58.007(c) deems the offense report confidential, and section 58.007 does not provide for its release to the requestor. Accordingly, the city must withhold offense report number 98-46139 from disclosure in its entirety under section 552.101 of the Government Code.
Section 552.108(a) excepts from disclosure "[i]nformation held by a law enforcement agency or prosecutor that deals with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime . . . if: (1) release of the information would interfere with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime." You state that offense report number 98-46131 relates to a pending criminal prosecution. Based upon this representation, we conclude that the release of the offense report would interfere with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime. See 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) (court delineates law enforcement interests that are present in active cases).
We note, however, that information normally found on the front page of an offense report is generally considered public. See generally Gov't Code § 552.108(c); Houston Chronicle, 531 S.W.2d 177; Open Records Decision No. 127 (1976). Thus, you must release 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. Although section 552.108(a)(1) authorizes you to withhold the remaining information in offense report number 98-46131 from disclosure, you may choose to release all or part of the information at issue that is not otherwise confidential by law. See Gov't Code § 552.007.
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.
Karen E. Hattaway
Ref: ID# 123191
Enclosures: Submitted documents
cc: Ms. Darlene Canner
POST OFFICE BOX 12548, AUSTIN, TEXAS 78711-2548 TEL: (512) 463-2100 WEB: WWW.OAG.STATE.TX.US