|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
May 24, 1999
Mr. Jason C. Marshall
Dear Mr. Marshall:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 125186.
The Dallas Central Appraisal District (the "district") received a request for information showing the value assigned by the district to the retail inventory of certain businesses.(1) You seek to withhold the requested information under section 552.103 of the Government Code.
Section 552.103(a) 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 pending or reasonably anticipated litigation to which the governmental body is a party. You have submitted pleadings in J.C. Penny Co. Inc. v. Dallas Central Appraisal District, 14th Judicial District, Dallas County, Texas, number 96-08245-A. We understand you to represent that this litigation is still pending.
Having reviewed these pleadings, your arguments, and the information at issue, we conclude that the requested information relates to the referenced litigation. Accordingly, you may withhold the requested information under section 552.103(a) during the pendency of the referenced litigation.
We assume, however, that none of the information in the records at issue has previously been made available to the opposing party in the litigation. Absent special circumstances, once information has been obtained by all parties to the litigation, either through discovery or otherwise, no section 552.103(a) interest exists with respect to that information. Open Records Decision Nos. 349 (1982) and 320 (1982). To the extent the opposing party has seen or had access to these records, there would be no justification for now withholding such information from the requestor pursuant to section 552.103(a). Again, the applicability of section 552.103(a) ends once the litigation has concluded. Attorney General Opinion MW-575 (1982), Open Records Decision No. 350 (1982).
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.
Ref.: ID# 125182
encl: Submitted documents
cc: Mr. Scott E. Breen
1. We note that the requestor contends that the district's request for the decision of this office was untimely, based on the statement in the district's March 30, 1999 letter to this office that it had received the requestor's request on March 15, 1999. See Gov't Code § 552.301(a) (government body seeking to withhold requested information must seek the decision of the attorney general within ten business days of receiving written request). The district has responded that its statement as to the March 15 receipt date was in error, and that it in fact received the request on March 17, 1999. Based on the district's representations, we conclude that the district's request to this office was timely.
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