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March 10, 1999

Ms. Cary Grace
Assistant City Attorney
City of Houston
Legal Department
P.O. Box 1562
Houston, Texas 77251-1562

OR99-0671

Dear Ms. Grace:

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# 122639.

The City of Houston (the "city") received a request for various information. You advise that the city either has released, or does not have, most of the information sought. You seek to withhold portions of a printout of Mobil Data Terminal transmissions (the "MDT printout" ) to or from particular officers for a particular time period as specified in the request. You claim the portions of the MDT printout at issue are protected from disclosure under sections 552.101, 552.108, and 552.130 of the Government Code.

Section 552.108, in part, 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;

. . . .

(b) An internal record or notation of a law enforcement agency or prosecutor that is maintained for internal use in matters relating to law enforcement or prosecution . . . if:

(1) release of the internal record or notation would interfere with law enforcement or prosecution[.]

You advise that portions of the MDT printout relate to two pending DWI cases. Based on your representations, we conclude that you may generally withhold the information relating to these two pending cases under section 552.108(a)(1).(1)

You also state that the MDT printout at issue reflects "security gate code" information for a particular apartment complex. You advise that this information is available to law enforcement personnel for use in law enforcement situations and emergencies but is not readily available to the public, and that release of the gate code information would compromise the security of the apartment complex. Based on your representations, we conclude that you may withhold the gate code information in question under section 552.108(b)(1).

Section 552.101 requires withholding, inter alia, information made confidential by law. Title 28, Part 20 of the Code of Federal Regulations governs the release of criminal history record information ("CHRI") which states obtain from the federal government or other states. Open Records Decision No. 565 (1990). The federal regulations allow each state to follow its individual law with respect to CHRI it generates. Id. Section 411.083 of the Government Code deems confidential CHRI that the Department of Public Safety (the "DPS") maintains, except that the DPS may disseminate such records as provided in chapter 411, subchapter F of the Government Code. See also Gov't Code 411.087 (entities authorized to obtain information from DPS are authorized to obtain similar information from any other criminal justice agency; restrictions on disclosure of CHRI obtained from DPS also apply to CHRI obtained from other criminal justice agencies). Sections 411.083(b)(1) and 411.089(a) authorize a criminal justice agency to obtain CHRI; however, a criminal justice agency may not release the information except to another criminal justice agency for a criminal justice purpose, id. 411.089(b)(1). Other entities specified in Chapter 411 of the Government Code are entitled to obtain CHRI from DPS or another criminal justice agency; however, those entities may not release the information except as provided by Chapter 411. See generally id. 411.090-.127. Thus, any CHRI generated by the federal government or another state may not be made available to the requestor except in accordance with federal regulations. See Open Records Decision No. 565 (1990). Furthermore, any CHRI obtained from DPS or any other criminal justice agency must be withheld under section 552.101 of the Government Code in conjunction with Government Code chapter 411, subchapter F. Please note, however, that driving record information is not confidential under chapter 411, see Gov't Code 411.082(2)(B), and must be disclosed.

Section 552.130 of the Government Code provides in relevant part as follows:

(a) Information is excepted from [required public disclosure] if the information relates to:

(1) a motor vehicle operator's or driver's license or permit issued by an agency of this state; [or]

(2) a motor vehicle title or registration issued by an agency of this state[.]

The MDT printout contains drivers license and license plate number information that are made confidential under section 552.130. The city must withhold these types of information pursuant to section 552.130. Except as noted above, the MDT printout must be released.

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.

Sincerely,

William Walker
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

WMW/ch

Ref:: ID# 122639

Enclosures: Submitted documents

cc: Ms. Terri R. Z. Jacobs
Zimmermann & Lavine, P.C
770 South Post Oak Lane, Suite 620
Houston, Texas 77056

(w/o enclosures)


 

Footnotes

1. Please note, however, that section 552.108(a)(1) does not except from required public disclosure "basic information about an arrested person, an arrest, or a crime." Gov't Code 552.108(c). Because you have raised no other exception to disclosure of the information relating to the pending DWI cases, the city must release basic information with respect to these cases in accordance with Houston Chronicle Publ'g Co. v. City of Houston, 531 S.W.2d 177 (Tex. Civ. App.--Houston [14th Dist.] 1975), writ ref'd n.r.e. per curiam, 536 S.W.2d 559 (Tex. 1976).
 

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