|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
July 29, 1999
Ms. Kathleen Weisskopf
Dear Ms. Weisskopf:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under the Texas Public Information Act, chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 126429.
The Arlington Police Department (the "department") received an open records request for all "incident (crime) reports occurring at 1000 Ballpark Way from May 1995 through May 1996." You state that the department has identified approximately 200 police reports that are responsive to the request and that most of those reports will be made available to the requestor. You seek to withhold, however, three particular police reports pursuant to section 552.101 of the Government Code.
Section 552.101 of the Government Code protects "information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision." You first contend that the offense report you submitted as Exhibit B must be withheld from the public pursuant to section 51.14 of the Family Code. Exhibit B concerns a report of juvenile conduct. Prior to its repeal by the Seventy-fourth Legislature, section 51.14(d) of the Family Code provided as follows:
Except as provided by Article 15.27, Code of Criminal Procedure, and except for files and records relating to a charge for which a child is transferred under Section 54.02 of this code to a criminal court for prosecution, the law-enforcement files and records are not open to public inspection nor may their contents be disclosed to the public, but inspection of the files and records is permitted by:
(1) a juvenile court having the child before it in any proceeding;
(2) an attorney for a party to the proceeding; and
(3) law-enforcement officers when necessary for the discharge of their official duties.
Despite the repeal of section 51.14(d), law-enforcement records pertaining to juvenile conduct that occurred prior to the effective date of the repeal continue to be confidential under that section.(1) Because Exhibit B pertains to juvenile conduct that occurred prior to January 1, 1996, we conclude that this offense report is governed by section 51.14(d) of the Family Code and that the department must withhold this information in its entirety. See also Open Records Decision No. 181 (1977).
You next contend that the other two offense reports, Exhibits C and D, must be withheld from the public pursuant to common-law privacy. Section 552.101 of the Government Code also protects information coming within the common-law right to privacy. Industrial Found. v. Texas Indus. Accident Bd., 540 S.W.2d 668 (Tex. 1976), cert. denied, 430 U.S. 931 (1977). Common-law privacy protects information if it is highly intimate or embarrassing, such that its release would be highly objectionable to a reasonable person, and it is of no legitimate concern to the public. Id. at 683-85.
This office has previously recognized that information might implicate an individual's common-law privacy interests if it relates, for example, to a drug overdose, acute alcohol intoxication, obstetrical/gynecological illness, convulsions/seizures or emotional/mental distress. See Open Records Decision No. 370 (1983); see also Open Records Decision Nos. 343 (1982), 262 (1980). We have marked the information in Exhibits C and D that the department must withhold to protect the privacy interests of the certain individuals identified therein. The remaining information in these two reports must be released.
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# 126429
Encl. Marked documents
cc: Ms. Laura Benitez Geisler
1. See Act of May 27, 1995, 74th Leg., R.S., ch. 262, § 106, 1995 Tex. Gen. Laws Serv. 2591 (Vernon).
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