|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
December 10, 1999
Ms. Mary Reveles
Dear Ms. Reveles:
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# 130326.
The Fort Bend County Sheriff Department (the "Sheriff") received a request for "all records from 4-92 thru 9-99 on Larry Ray Wilson and Diana Garza involving incidents and disturbances." You state that section 552.108 of the Government Code excepts from required public disclosure information concerning a case you say is ongoing.
The release of a compilation of offense reports in which an individual is listed as the suspect implicates that individual's common-law right to privacy. See United States Dept' of Justice v. Reporters Comm. For Freedom of the Press, 489 U.S. 749 (1989), Houston Chronicle Publishing Co., 531 S.W.2d at 179. When a requestor asks for all information concerning a certain individual and that individual is a suspect in a case, that individual's privacy right is implicated by the release of the information. Accordingly, the Sheriff must not release such a compilation. Gov't Code § 552.101; see also Industrial Found.of the S. v. Texas Indus. Accident Bd., 540 S.W.2d 668 (Tex. 1976), cert. denied, 430 U.S. 931 (1977).(1)
This letter ruling is limited to the particular records at issue in this request and limited to the facts as presented to us; therefore, this ruling must not be relied upon as a previous determination regarding any other records or any other circumstances.
This ruling triggers important deadlines regarding the rights and responsibilities of the governmental body and of the requestor. For example, governmental bodies are prohibited from asking the attorney general to reconsider this ruling. Gov't Code § 552.301(f). If the governmental body wants to challenge this ruling, the governmental body must appeal by filing suit in Travis County within 30 calendar days. Id. § 552.324(b). In order to get the full benefit of such an appeal, the governmental body must file suit within 10 calendar days. Id. § 552.353(b)(3), (c). If the governmental body does not appeal this ruling and the governmental body does not comply with it, then both the requestor and the attorney general have the right to file suit against the governmental body to enforce this ruling. Id. § 552.321(a).
If this ruling requires the governmental body to release all or part of the requested information, the governmental body is responsible for taking the next step. Based on the statute, the attorney general expects that, within 10 calendar days of this ruling, the governmental body will do one of the following three things: 1) release the public records; 2) notify the requestor of the exact day, time, and place that copies of the records will be provided or that the records can be inspected; or 3) notify the requestor of the governmental body's intent to challenge this letter ruling in court. If the governmental body fails to do one of these three things within 10 calendar days of this ruling, then the requestor should report that failure to the attorney general's Open Government Hotline, toll free, at 877/673-6839. The requestor may also file a complaint with the district or county attorney. Id. § 552.3215(e).
If this ruling requires or permits the governmental body to withhold all or some of the requested information, the requestor can appeal that decision by suing the governmental body. Id. § 552.321(a); Texas Department of Public Safety v. Gilbreath, 842 S.W.2d 408, 411 (Tex. App.-Austin 1992, no writ).
If the governmental body, the requestor, or any other person has questions or comments about this ruling, they may contact our office. Although there is no statutory deadline for contacting us, the attorney general prefers to receive any comments within 10 calendar days of the date of this ruling.
Kay H. Hastings
Ref.: ID# 130236
Encl. Submitted documents
cc: Mr. Roger Perez
1. In light of our conclusion under seciton 552.101, we need not address your section 552.108 claim.
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