|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
April 13, 1999
Mr. Don Hatcher, Chief
Dear Mr. Hatcher:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID#123473.
The Leander Police Department (the "department") received a request for a specific incident report. You indicate that you have released "basic information" in accordance with section 552.108(c) of the Government Code and 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).(1) You claim, however, that the submitted information is excepted from required public disclosure by section 552.108 of the Government Code. We have considered the exception you claim and have reviewed the documents at issue.
Initially, we note that some of the submitted documents are court records. Documents filed with the court are public documents and must be released. See Star-Telegram, Inc. v. Walker, 834 S.W.2d 54, 57-58 (Tex. 1992).
Section 552.108, the "law enforcement exception," provides in relevant part as follows:
(a) [i]nformation held by a law enforcement agency or prosecutor that deals with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime is excepted from the requirements of 552.021 if: (1) release of the information would interfere with the detection, investigation or prosecution of crime; [or] (2) it is information that deals with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime only in relation to an investigation that did not result in conviction or deferred adjudication[.]
Generally, a governmental body claiming an exception under section 552.108 must reasonably explain, if the information does not supply the explanation on its face, how and why the release of the requested information would interfere with law enforcement. See Gov't Code §§ 552.108(a)(1), (b)(1), .301(b)(1); see also Ex parte Pruitt, 551 S.W.2d 706 (Tex. 1977). You explain that the submitted records relate to a pending investigation. Based upon your representation that the requested information relates to a pending criminal investigation, we find that the release of the remaining documents would interfere with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime. See 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) (court delineates law enforcement interests that are present in active cases). Therefore, with the exception of court-filed documents, the department may withhold the submitted information under section 552.108(a)(1).
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.
June B. Harden
Ref: ID# 123473
encl. Submitted documents
cc: Mr. Gerardo Saucedo
1. We note, however, that Attachment B does not include a detailed description of the crime. The department must release a detailed description of the crime to the requestor. See Open Records Decision No. 127 (1976) (summarizing the types of information deemed public by Houston Chronicle).
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