|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
January 14, 1999
Ms. Kristi LaRoe
Dear Ms. LaRoe:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 121104.
The district clerk of Tarrant County received a request for information related to Jon Nicolas Phillips. You contend that the responsive information is excepted from disclosure by Government Code sections 552.028, 552.101, 552.103, and 552.111. You have supplied the responsive information. We have considered the exceptions you claim and have reviewed the documents at issue.
As section 552.028 of the Government Code is dispositive of this request, we will limit our discussion to that provision; this section provides:
(a) A governmental body is not required to accept or comply with a request for information from an individual who is imprisoned or confined in a correctional facility.
(b) Subsection (a) does not prohibit a governmental body from disclosing to an individual described by that subsection information held by the governmental body pertaining to that individual.
(c) In this section, "correctional facility" has the meaning assigned by Section 1.07(a), Penal Code.
Section 1.07(a) of the Penal Code provides:
. . .
(14) "Correctional facility" means a place designated by law for the confinement of a person arrested for, charged with, or convicted of a criminal offense. The term includes:
(A) a municipal or county jail
You relate that Mr. Phillips is an individual incarcerated by the Texas Department of Corrections. As such he is "an individual who is imprisoned or confined in a correctional facility." You also relate that Mr. Phillips is the son of the requestor. We understand you to suggest that the requestor is acting as the inmate's agent. We agree that section 552.028 of the Government Code applies to such requests. We base this conclusion on the following rationale.
We are bound to construe statutes so as to not produce an absurd or unreasonable result. City of Wilmer v. Laidlaw Waste Sys. (Dallas), Inc., 890 S.W.2d 459, 465 (Tex. App.--Dallas 1994), aff'd, 904 S.W.2d 656 (Tex. 1995); see State Highway Dept. v. Gorham, 162 S.W.2d 934 (Tex. 1942); Anderson v. Penix, 161 S.W.2d 455 (Tex. 1942). A construction of section 552.028 that would permit a governmental body to decline to comply with a request submitted by an inmate, but that would require the governmental body to comply with one submitted by an inmate's agent is absurd on its face. Such a construction would circumvent the exception, frustrating the clear legislative intent of section 552.028.
We conclude that section 552.028 of the Government Code, which permits a governmental body discretion to decline or to comply with a request for information that is submitted by an individual who is imprisoned or confined in a correctional facility, also permits a governmental body to decline or comply with a request that is submitted by that person's agent. Therefore, Chapter 552 of the Government Code does not require a response to this request.
We are resolving this matter with an informal letter ruling rather than with a published open records decision. This ruling is limited to the particular records at issue under the facts presented to us in this request and should not be relied upon as a previous determination regarding any other records. If you have questions about this ruling, please contact our office.
Yours very truly,
Michael J. Burns
Ref: ID# 121104
Enclosures: Submitted documents
cc: Ms. Mary Lou Phillips
POST OFFICE BOX 12548, AUSTIN, TEXAS 78711-2548 TEL: (512) 463-2100 WEB: WWW.OAG.STATE.TX.US