|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
May 5, 2000
Mr. Wyman Hopkins
Dear Mr. Hopkins:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under the Public Information Act, chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 134892.
The Rosenberg Police Department (the "department") received a request for a copy of case number 00-3815. You claim that portions of the information are excepted from disclosure under section 552.108 of the Government Code.(1) We have considered the exception you claim and reviewed the submitted information.
Section 552.108(a)(2) excepts from disclosure information concerning an investigation that concluded in a result other than conviction or deferred adjudication. In this instance, you state that the "respective case . . . investigation has been concluded, but has not been adjudicated and therefore has not resulted in a conviction or deferred adjudication against any person." It would appear that you have invoked the protection of section 552.108(a)(2). Therefore, based on your representation that the department's investigation has come to an end and assuming no criminal charges are pending at this time, this office concludes that the department may withhold most of the information at issue pursuant to section 552.108(a)(2).(2)
However, as you correctly noted in your letter, section 552.108 is inapplicable to basic information about an arrested person, an arrest, or a crime. Gov't Code § 552.108(c). We believe such basic information refers to the information held to be public in Houston Chronicle Publishing Co. v. City of Houston, 531 S.W.2d 177 (Tex. Civ. App. --Houston [14th Dist.] 1975), writ ref'd n.r.e. per curiam, 536 S.W.2d 559 (Tex. 1976). Thus, with the exception of the basic front page offense and arrest information, you may withhold the requested information from disclosure based on section 552.108(a)(2). We note that you have the discretion to release all or part of the remaining information that is not otherwise confidential by law. Gov't Code § 552.007.
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.
Ref: ID# 134892
Encl. Submitted documents
cc: Ms. Julia Janacek
1. You have highlighted the portions of the requested documents which you claim are excepted from disclosure under section 552.108. You state that the requestor has been furnished with all other portions of the requested information. Please note that section 552.130 of the Government Code excepts from public disclosure all driver's license numbers issued by this state. We caution that the distribution of confidential information constitutes a criminal offense. Gov't Code § 552.352.
2. We note, however, that if the requested information relates to a criminal prosecution that is, in fact, ongoing, section 552.108(a)(2) does not apply; in that instance, the department must release the information to the requestor.
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