|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
October 1, 1999
Mr. Hugh W. Davis, Jr.
Dear Mr. Davis:
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# 128641.
The City of Fort Worth (the "city") received a request for "copies of any documents or information to which [the requestor is] entitled for the purpose of discovering the basis of [the city's] determination regarding [the requestor's] application for employment with the Fort Worth Police Department." You state that the city has already released some of the requested documents. You contend that the remaining documents are excepted from disclosure under sections 552.101 and 552.108 of the Government Code. We have considered the exceptions you claim and reviewed the documents at issue, exhibits B and C.
Exhibit B consists of documents containing information relating to the city's investigation into the requestor's fitness for being a police officer. You contend that exhibit B is excepted from disclosure under section 552.108(b)(1) of the Government Code which provides:
(b) An internal record or notation of a law enforcement agency or prosecutor that is maintained for internal use in matters relating to law enforcement or prosecution is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021 if:
(1) release of the internal record or notation would interfere with law enforcement or prosecution[.]
Gov't Code § 552.108. We do not believe this exception applies to the information at issue. See Open Records Decision No. 361 at 2-3 (1983) (statutory predecessor to section 552.108(b) inapplicable to background information collected on unsuccessful applicant for employment with sheriff's department). Cf. Open Records Decision Nos. 562 at 10 (1990) (predecessor to section 552.108(b) inapplicable to employment information in police officer's file). Therefore, the city may not withhold exhibit B from disclosure based on section 552.108.
You contend that exhibit C, a criminal background check, is excepted from disclosure under section 552.101 of the Government Code. Section 552.101 applies to information that is made confidential by law, including information made confidential by statute. Title 28, Part 20 of the Code of Federal Regulations governs the release of criminal history record information ("CHRI") which states obtain from the federal government or other states. Open Records Decision No. 565 (1990). The federal regulations allow each state to follow its individual law with respect to CHRI it generates. Id. Section 411.083 of the Government Code deems confidential CHRI that the Department of Public Safety (the "DPS") maintains, except that the DPS may disseminate such records as provided in chapter 411, subchapter F of the Government Code. See also Gov't Code § 411.087 (entities authorized to obtain information from DPS are authorized to obtain similar information from any other criminal justice agency; restrictions on disclosure of CHRI obtained from DPS also apply to CHRI obtained from other criminal justice agencies). Sections 411.083(b)(1) and 411.089(a) authorize a criminal justice agency to obtain CHRI; however, a criminal justice agency may not release the information except to another criminal justice agency for a criminal justice purpose, id. § 411.089(b)(1). Other entities specified in Chapter 411 of the Government Code are entitled to obtain CHRI from DPS or another criminal justice agency; however, those entities may not release the information except as provided by Chapter 411. See generally id. §§ 411.090-.127. Thus, any CHRI generated by the federal government or another state may not be made available to the requestor except in accordance with federal regulations. See Open Records Decision No. 565 (1990). Furthermore, any CHRI obtained from DPS or any other criminal justice agency must be withheld under section 552.101 of the Government Code in conjunction with Government Code chapter 411, subchapter F.(1) Please note, however, that driving record information is not confidential under chapter 411, see Gov't Code § 411.082(2)(B), and must be disclosed.
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# 128641
Encl. Submitted documents
cc: Mr. Frederick G. Tiede
1. We note that the requestor may obtain his own CHRI directly from the Texas Department of Public Safety. See Gov't Code § 411.083(b)(3).
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