|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
November 3, 1999
Mr. Duncan R. Fox
Dear Mr. Fox:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 129776.
The Texas Department of Public Safety (the "department") received a request for information pertaining to an incident involving Trooper Terry and Mr. Morganfield. You claim that the requested 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 representative sample of the documents at issue.(1)
Section 552.301 of the Government Code dictates the procedure that a governmental body must follow if it wishes to ask the attorney general for a decision determining whether requested information falls within an exception to disclosure. Among other requirements, the governmental body must submit to the attorney general a copy of the written request for information "no later than the 15th business day after the date of receiving the written request." Act of May 25, 1999, 76th Leg., R.S., ch 1319, § 20, 1999 Tex. Sess. Law Serv. 4500, 4508-4509 (Vernon) (to be codified as an amendment to Tex. Gov't Code § 552.301(e)(B). Otherwise, the requested information "is presumed to be subject to required public disclosure and must be released unless there is a compelling reason to withhold the information." Act of May 25, 1999, 76th Leg., R.S., ch 1319, § 21, 1999 Tex. Sess. Law Serv. 4500, 4509 (Vernon) (to be codified as an amendment to Tex. Gov't Code § 552.302).
You state that you received the written request for information on September 17, 1999. Accordingly, you were required to send to this office a copy of the written request for information no later than October 8, 1999. However, as of today's date, you have not provided this office with a copy of the written request.(2) Therefore, absent a compelling reason to withhold the information, the requested records must be released. However, we find that small portions of the documents at issue are confidential by another source of law, and therefore a compelling reason exists to withhold these portions of the requested records. See Open Records Decision No. 150 (1977) (presumption of openness overcome by a showing that the information is made confidential by another source of law or affects third party interests).
First, the submitted information includes criminal history record information ("CHRI"). Section 552.101 excepts from disclosure "information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision." Criminal history record information generated by the National Crime Information Center ("NCIC") or by the Texas Crime Information Center ("TCIC") is confidential. Title 28, part 20 of the Code of Federal Regulations governs the release of CHRI that 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 ("DPS") maintains, except that the DPS may disseminate this information as provided in chapter 411, subchapter F of the Government Code. See Gov't Code § 411.083.
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 CHRI 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 CHRI 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. 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 have marked information excepted from required public disclosure by section 552.101 of the Government Code.
Next, throughout the submitted documents, several driver's license numbers, a license plate number, and a vendor identification number appear. Section 552.130 of the Government Code excepts from required public disclosure information that relates to a motor vehicle operator's or driver's license or permit issued by an agency of this state or a motor vehicle title or registration issued by an agency of this state. Therefore, you must redact the documents containing the driver's license numbers, the license plate number, and the vendor identification number, so as to withhold only those pieces of information. We have marked the documents containing this information.
Finally, the submitted information contains several social security numbers. Section
552.101 also applies to confidentiality provisions such as the 1990 amendments to the federal Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(c)(2)(C)(viii)(I). This provision makes social security numbers confidential if they are obtained and maintained by a state agency or political subdivision of the state pursuant to any provision of law enacted on or after October 1, 1990. See Open Records Decision No. 622 (1994). Therefore, if the social security numbers contained in the requested documents meet the criteria of section 405(c)(2)(C)(viii)(I), then they are confidential under this provision as encompassed by section 552.101. We have marked the documents that contain the social security numbers.
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.
E. Joanna Fitzgerald
Ref: ID# 129776
Encl. Submitted documents
cc: Mr. Alan E. Warrick
1. We assume that the "representative sample" of records submitted to this office is truly representative of the requested records as a whole. See Open Records Decision Nos. 499 (1988), 497 (1988). This open records letter does not reach, and therefore does not authorize the withholding of, any other requested records to the extent that those records contain substantially different types of information than that submitted to this office.
2. Although your letter requesting an attorney general opinion states that a copy of the request is enclosed, there was no written request included within the enclosures.
POST OFFICE BOX 12548, AUSTIN, TEXAS 78711-2548 TEL: (512) 463-2100 WEB: WWW.OAG.STATE.TX.US