|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
August 7, 2000
Ms. Julie Joe
Dear Ms. Cary:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 138553.
The Office of the Attorney General (the "OAG") received a request for "Any and all documents and records supporting expenses by the five tobacco trial lawyers, Umphrey, O'Quinn, Williams, Reaud, Nix and or their firms, hereafter defined as the "Trial Lawyers," in the Texas Tobacco Litigation . . . ." You claim that portions of the requested information are excepted from disclosure under sections 552.101 and 552.107(2) of the Government Code. We have considered the exceptions you claim and have reviewed the submitted information.
The first item of the request seeks disclosure of information contained in seventeen boxes which you indicate were received by the OAG from private counsel representing the tobacco litigants. You assert that the information is protected from disclosure by section 552.107(2) of the Government Code. Section 552.107(2) excepts from required public disclosure information if "a court by order has prohibited disclosure of the information." You have provided to this office an order entered by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Texarkana Division, in In re State of Texas, Cause No. 5:00-CV-188. The order, dated June 23, 2000, provides that the "17 boxes of documents turned over to the State by Private counsel SHALL REMAIN UNDER SEAL pending further order of this Court." You urge that you are prohibited by court order from disclosing the information in the seventeen boxes. To the extent this order applies to the requested items held by the OAG, section 552.107(2) provides an exception from required disclosure. Since section 552.107(2) is dispositive of the information at issue, we do not address your claim under section 552.101 of the Government Code.(1)
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).
Carla Gay Dickson
Ref: ID# 138553
Encl. Submitted documents
cc: Mr. Jim Brickman
1. The request seeks not only the information contained in the seventeen boxes submitted to the OAG, but also five other categories of information. Since you have submitted no arguments which would support withholding from disclosure the requested information that is not located in the seventeen boxes, we assume that the OAG has released the remaining categories of requested information to the requestor. See Gov't Code §§ 552.006, .301, .302. Since this ruling requires the OAG to withhold all information in the seventeen boxes, you must not release any records in those boxes, including any item that might otherwise be responsive to the remaining categories of requested information.