|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
March 29, 1999
Ms. Lois Cochran
Dear Ms. Cochran:
You have asked whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under the Open Records Act, chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 124747.
The City of Cleburne (the "city") received a request for records concerning Arson Case Number 99-209. You assert that the requested information is excepted from disclosure based on section 552.101 of the Government Code in conjunction with section 58.007 of the Family Code. 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 Family Code section 58.007. 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.
The information at issue involves juvenile conduct that occurred after September 1, 1997. However, in this case, section 58.007(c) is inapplicable because the juveniles involved are not "children" as defined by defined by section 51.02 of the Family Code. A "child" is a person who is
(A) ten years of age or older and under 17 years of age; or
(B) seventeen years of age or older and under 18 years of age who is alleged or found to have engaged in delinquent conduct or conduct indicating a need for supervision as a result of acts committed before becoming 17 years of age.
Fam. Code § 51.02(1). Here, the ages of the juveniles at issue are five, seven, and nine when the conduct occurred. Therefore, the city may not withhold these documents from the requestor based on section 58.007(c) of the Family Code.
However, the information does include information protected by common-law privacy as encompassed by section 552.101 of the Government Code. Common-law privacy protects information if (1) the information contains highly intimate or embarrassing facts the publication of which would be highly objectionable to a reasonable person, and (2) the information is not of legitimate concern to the public. Industrial Found. v. Texas Indus. Accident Bd., 540 S.W.2d 668, 685 (Tex. 1976), cert. denied, 430 U.S. 931 (1977). The type of information considered intimate and embarrassing by the Texas Supreme Court in Industrial Foundation included information relating to sexual assault, pregnancy, mental or physical abuse in the workplace, illegitimate children, psychiatric treatment of mental disorders, attempted suicide, and injuries to sexual organs. 540 S.W.2d at 683. We have marked the information that you must withhold under common-law privacy. You must release the remaining information.
We are resolving this matter with this 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 may not be relied upon as a previous determination regarding any other records. If you have questions about this ruling, please contact our office.
Ref.: ID# 124747
Enclosures: Marked documents
cc: Mr. Hans Hartzog
POST OFFICE BOX 12548, AUSTIN, TEXAS 78711-2548 TEL: (512) 463-2100 WEB: WWW.OAG.STATE.TX.US