|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
November 1, 2000
Ms. Pamela Smith
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# 141689.
The Texas Department of Public Safety ("DPS") received a request for copies of all documents pertaining to Texas Ranger investigations of a named individual. You claim that the requested information is excepted from disclosure under section 552.108 of the Government Code. We have considered the exception you claim and reviewed the submitted information.
Section 552.101 of the Government Code excepts from public disclosure "information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision." Gov't Code § 552.101. Included within this exception is information considered confidential under the common law right to privacy. When an individual's criminal history information has been compiled by a governmental entity, the information takes on a character that implicates the individual's right to privacy. See United States Dep't of Justice v. Reporters Comm. for Freedom of the Press, 489 U.S. 749 (1989); Open Records Decision Nos. 616 at 2 (1993), 565 at 10 (1990). Because a response to the request for all documents pertaining to investigations of a named individual in this instance would require the compilation of the individual's criminal history, we find that such information must be withheld under section 552.101 to the extent it identifies the individual as a suspect.
In light of our conclusion under section 552.101, we need not address the applicability of section 552.108. 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.
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 512/475-2497.
Nathan E. Bowden
Ref: ID# 141689
Encl: Submitted documents
cc: Mr. Randy Sanders