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John Cornyn

January 10, 2000

Ms. Elaine S. Hengen
Assistant City Attorney
City of El Paso
2 Civic Center Plaza - 9th Floor
El Paso, Texas 79901


Dear Ms. Hengen:

You ask this office to clarify our ruling in Open Records Letter No. 99-3560 (1999). Your request for clarification was assigned ID# 132480.

The City of El Paso (the "city") received requests for reports regarding case numbers 99-242187 involving a car registered in the State of Colorado and 99-142279 involving a car registered in the State of Texas. This office issued Open Records Letter No. 99-3560 (1999) in response to the city's request for a ruling regarding the release of personal information contained in the reports. You, now, specifically ask for clarification on page two of Open Records Letter No. 99-3560 so that the city does not improperly release confidential information. The penultimate sentence of the second full paragraph on page two of Open Records Letter No. 99-3560 should be corrected to read as follows:

"Since the information contained in case number 99-242187, relates to motor vehicle information issued by foreign entities, we conclude that you may not withhold the VINs, license plate numbers, and drivers' license information contained in this file under section 552.130."

Open Records Letter No.99-3560 (1999) is overruled to the extent that it conflicts with this ruling.

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. If we can be of further service, please contact our office.


Rose-Michel Munguía
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division


Ref.: 132480

Encl.: Submitted documents

cc: Ms. Catherine Murphy
Business Manager
1-44 Auto Auction, Inc.
16015 East Admiral Plaza
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74116
(w/o enclosures)


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