|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
July 6, 2000
Mr. John Hille, Jr.
Dear Mr. Hille:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 136794.
The Travis County District Attorney's Office (the "district attorney") received a written request for, among other things, "[a]ny compilations or summaries reflecting the cases handled by the Public Integrity Unit and the dispositions of said cases from 1996 - present." You have submitted to this office as responsive to the request a variety of documents from the district attorney's case files, and contend that the district attorney may withhold those documents pursuant to various exceptions to required public disclosure, including sections 552.103 and 552.108 of the Government Code.(1)
We note, however, that the requestor seeks only "compilations or summaries" of the district attorney's Public Integrity Unit files. The requestor has informed this office that it was not her intent to obtain actual documents contained in the files themselves. Rather, she seeks only a concise summary of each of the referenced cases. Consequently, most of the documents you have submitted to our office are not responsive to the request, and we do not address the public nature of those documents here.
In essence, the requestor is seeking "basic information" about each of the referenced Public Integrity Unit cases, which may not be withheld from the public pursuant to any of the exceptions you have raised. Gov't Code § 552.108(c) (section 552.108 does not protect basic information); Open Records Decision No. 597 (1991) ("litigation exception" does not protect basic information). Accordingly, we conclude that the district attorney must release to the requestor "basic information" about each of the referenced Public Integrity Unit cases.
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.
Michael J. Burns
Ref: ID# 136794
Encl. Submitted documents
cc: Ms. Kym Olson
1. We assume the district attorney has released all of the other requested information. If not, the information must be released at this time.
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