October 25, 2000
Ms. Pamela Smith
Assistant General Counsel
Office of General Counsel
Texas Department of Public Safety
Austin, Texas 78773-0001
Dear Ms. Smith:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under
chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 140925.
The Texas Department of Public Safety ("DPS") received a request for copies of the scene
photographs, witness statements, and scene diagrams relating to an automobile accident.
You claim that the requested information is excepted from disclosure under sections 552.103
and 552.108 of the Government Code. We have considered the exceptions you claim and
have reviewed the submitted information.
Section 552.108(a)(1) excepts from required public disclosure
(a) Information held by a law enforcement agency or
prosecutor that deals with the detection, investigation, or prosecution
of crime . . . if:
(1) release of the information would interfere with the
detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime[.]
You advise that case is ongoing and DPS intends to file criminal charges in the matter.
Based on your representations and having reviewed the information at issue, we conclude
that release of the requested information would interfere with the detection, investigation,
or prosecution of a crime. Gov't Code § 552.108(a)(1). Thus, you may withhold from
disclosure the requested information. We note that you have the discretion to release all or
part of the 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.
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.
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).
Please remember that under the Act the release of information triggers certain procedures for
costs and charges to the requestor. If records are released in compliance with this ruling, be
sure that all charges for the information are at or below the legal amounts. Questions or
complaints about over-charging must be directed to the General Services Commission at
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.
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division
Ref: ID# 140925
Encl. Submitted documents
cc: Ms. Kim Smiley
State Farm Insurance
4410 Kinsey Drive
Tyler, Texas 78703-1003
POST OFFICE BOX 12548, AUSTIN, TEXAS 78711-2548 TEL: (512) 463-2100 WEB: WWW.OAG.STATE.TX.US
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