|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
February 29, 2000
Ms. Lillian Guillen Graham
Dear Ms. Graham:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 133406.
The City of Mesquite (the "city") received a request for a videotape recording of a D.W.I. arrest. You claim that the requested information is excepted from disclosure under sections 552.101, 552.103, 552.108, and 552.119 of the Government Code. We have considered the exceptions you claim and reviewed the submitted information.
Before considering the exceptions which you claim except the requested information from public disclosure, we will address your assertion that the videotape taken during the intoxilyzer procedure has been given to the District Attorney for prosecution purposes. You state that you have informed the requestor the video tape was filed with the District Attorney's office. The Public Information Act does not require a governmental body to prepare new information in response to open records requests. Open Records Decisions Nos. 452 (1986), 342(1982). In this instance, it appears the city no longer has possession of that particular video tape, thus the city need not create any new documents to respond to the open records request.
Now we will address whether the videotape of the booking and release is excepted from public disclosure under section 552.108 of the Government Code. Section 552.108(a)(1) of the Government Code states that information held by a law enforcement agency or prosecutor that deals with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime is excepted from required public disclosure "if release of the information would interfere with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime." Gov't Code § 552.108(a)(1). You inform us that the requested information pertains to a pending investigation. We therefore believe that the release of the information "would interfere with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime." Id. Therefore, you may withhold the video tape from disclosure. Because section 552.108 is dispositive, we need not consider your other claimed exceptions.
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.
Noelle C. Letteri
Ref: ID# 133406
Encl. Submitted documents
cc: Mr. Jimmy D. Beard
POST OFFICE BOX 12548, AUSTIN, TEXAS 78711-2548 TEL: (512) 463-2100 WEB: WWW.OAG.STATE.TX.US