|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
October 22, 1999
Mr. Roland Castaneda
Dear Mr. Castaneda:
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# 128611.
Dallas Area Rapid Transit ("DART") received a written request for records pertaining to a particular internal affairs investigation. You contend the requested records are excepted from required public disclosure pursuant to sections 552.101 and 552.108 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," including information 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. Section 552.101 also excepts from disclosure information protected by constitutional privacy. See Industrial Found., 540 S.W.2d at 678. The constitutional right to privacy protects materials concerning the "most intimate aspects of human affairs." See Open Records Decision No. 455 (1987) at 5 (citing Ramie v. City of Hedwig Village, 765 F.2d 490 (5th Cir. 1985)).
Based upon our review of the information at issue, we conclude that the information is not protected by privacy because none of the requested information comports with the standards for common-law or constitutional privacy as outlined above. See also Open Records Decision No. 444 (1986). DART may not withhold any of the information at issue under this exception.
You next contend that the entire internal affairs investigation may be withheld from the public pursuant to section 552.108 of the Government Code. The "law-enforcement exception" is not applicable to internal affairs investigations where no criminal investigation takes place. Morales v. Ellen, 840 S.W.2d 519, 526 (Tex. App.--El Paso 1992, writ denied). You have not met your burden of demonstrating why the records at issue should otherwise be withheld under section 552.108. Consequently, the records must be released to the requestor in their entirety.
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# 128611
Encl. Submitted documents
cc: Satyra Williams
POST OFFICE BOX 12548, AUSTIN, TEXAS 78711-2548 TEL: (512) 463-2100 WEB: WWW.OAG.STATE.TX.US