|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
August 1, 2000
Mr. M. Shannon Kackley
Dear Mr. Kackley:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 137629.
The City of Garland (the "city") received a request for a specific incident report and any related documents. You claim that the requested information is excepted from disclosure under section 552.101 of the Government Code in conjunction with section 58.007 of the Family Code. We have considered the exception you claim and reviewed the submitted information.
Section 552.101 of the Government Code excepts from disclosure "information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision." Accordingly, section 552.101 encompasses confidentiality provisions such as Family Code section 58.007. Juvenile law enforcement records relating to conduct that occurred on or after September 1, 1997 are confidential under section 58.007. The relevant language of that statute reads as follows:
(c) Except as provided by Subsection (d), law enforcement records and files concerning a child . . . may not be disclosed to the public and shall be:
(1) if maintained on paper or microfilm, kept separate from adult files and records;
(2) if maintained electronically in the same computer system as records or files relating to adults, be accessible under controls that are separate and distinct from controls to access electronic data concerning adults; and
(3) maintained on a local basis only and not sent to a central state or federal depository, except as provided by Subchapter B.
Fam. Code § 58.007(c). Section 51.02(2)(A) defines "child" as a person who is ten years of age or older and under seventeen years of age.
You have submitted an incident report regarding a runaway child, an arrest report pertaining to an arrest for harboring a runaway, and a call sheet(1) that appears to pertain to the arrest. The incident report constitutes a law enforcement record concerning juvenile delinquent conduct that occurred after September 1, 1997. See Fam. Code § 51.03(a)(3) (defining "conduct indicating a need for supervision" to include "the voluntary absence of a child from his home without the consent of his parent or guardian for a substantial length of time or without intent to return"). Thus, the incident report is confidential pursuant to section 58.007(c) of the Family Code. Accordingly, the city must withhold the incident report from disclosure under section 552.101 of the Government Code.
However, the arrest report and the call sheet concern the conduct of an adult rather than that of a child. See Fam. Code § 51.02(2)(A). Therefore, the city may not withhold the arrest report or the call sheet under section 58.007. As the city has raised no other exception regarding these two documents, and as we do not find confidential information contained within the documents, the city must release the arrest report and the call sheet to the requestor.
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).
E. Joanna Fitzgerald
Ref: ID# 137629
Encl: Submitted documents
cc: Ms. Dorothy J. Collins
1. By "call sheet," we refer to the document titled, "Calls for Service Report."