|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
August 26, 1999
Mr. Greg T. Simpson
Dear Mr. Simpson:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under the Public Information Act, chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 127094.
The General Land Office (the "GLO") received multiple requests for documentation used by the GLO to determine that the requestors' homes are located on a public beach. You claim that the submitted information is excepted from disclosure under section 552.103 of the Government Code. We have considered the exception you claim and have reviewed the submitted information.
Section 552.103(a) of the Government Code, the "litigation exception," excepts from disclosure information relating to litigation to which the state is or may be a party. The governmental body has the burden of providing relevant facts and documents to show that the section 552.103(a) exception is applicable in a particular situation. The test for meeting this burden is a showing that (1) litigation is pending or reasonably anticipated, and (2) the information at issue is related to that litigation. University of Tex. Law Sch. v. Texas Legal Found., 958 S.W.2d 479 (Tex. App.--Austin 1997, no pet.); Heard v Houston Post Co., 684 S.W.2d 210, 212 (Tex. App.--Houston [1st Dist.] 1984, writ ref'd n.r.e.); Open Records Decision No. 551 at 4 (1990). The governmental body must meet both prongs of this test for information to be excepted under section 552.103(a).
You have demonstrated that the submitted information relates to anticipated litigation for the purposes of section 552.103(a); therefore, the documents may be withheld from disclosure at this time. We note, however, that once information has been obtained by all parties to the litigation through discovery or otherwise, no section 552.103(a) interest exists with respect to that information. Open Records Decision Nos. 349 (1982), 320 (1982). We also note that 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 on as a previous determination regarding any other records. If you have any questions regarding this ruling, please contact our office.
June B. Harden
Ref: ID# 127094
Encl. Submitted documents
cc: Mr. Jose Leon
Mr. Fred Fowler
Mr. James Hedberg
Mr. Frank Koslosky
Mr. W. Z. Frederick Walker
Ms. Catherine G. Eisemann
POST OFFICE BOX 12548, AUSTIN, TEXAS 78711-2548 TEL: (512) 463-2100 WEB: WWW.OAG.STATE.TX.US