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March 5, 1999

Mr. Frank M. Crull
Assistant General Counsel
Department of Public Safety
P.O. Box 4087
Austin, Texas 78773-0001

OR99-0634

Dear Mr. Crull:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under the Texas Open Records Act, chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 122653.

The Texas Department of Public Safety (the "department") received a request for "the name of the individual who implicated" the requestor in an alleged crime. You claim that the requested information is excepted from disclosure under sections 552.101 and 552.108 of the Government Code. We have considered the exceptions you claim and have reviewed the submitted information.

Section 552.101 incorporates the informer's privilege.(1) This privilege protects from disclosure the identities of persons who report activities over which the governmental body has criminal or quasi-criminal law-enforcement authority, provided that the subject of the information does not already know the informer's identity. Open Records Decision Nos. 515 (1988) at 3, 208 (1978) at 1-2. The informer's privilege protects the identities of individuals who report violations of statutes to the police or similar law enforcement agencies, as well as those who report violations of statutes with civil or criminal penalties to "administrative officials having a duty of inspection or of law enforcement within their particular spheres." Open Records Decision No. 279 at 2 (1981) (citing Wigmore, Evidence, 2374, at 767 (McNaughton rev. ed. 1961)). The report must be of a violation of a criminal or civil statute. See Open Records Decision Nos. 582 at 2, (1990) 515 at 4-5 (1988). After reviewing the submitted information, we conclude that the department may withhold the requested information under the informer's privilege.

Because we are able to make a determination under section 552.101, we need not address your additional argument against disclosure. 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 on as a previous determination regarding any other records. If you have any questions regarding this ruling, please contact our office.

Sincerely,

June B. Harden
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

JBH/ch

Ref.: ID# 122653

Enclosures: Submitted documents

cc: Mr. Thomas A. Simpkins
709 Globe Avenue
Fort Worth, Texas 76131
(w/o enclosures)


 

Footnotes

1. Section 552.101 excepts from disclosure "information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision."
 

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