|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
April 23, 1999
Mr. Richard Brown
Dear Mr. Brown:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 124192.
The Dallas Police Department (the "department") received a request for a copy of all reports regarding Jacqueline Campbell Gipson. 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 reviewed the submitted information.
You argue that the information is excepted from disclosure under section 552.108 of the Government Code. Section 552.108 reads in pertinent part as follows:
(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;
(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[.]
. . .
(c) This section does not except from [public disclosure] information that is basic information about an arrested person, an arrest, or a crime.
Offense report #0536803-F is currently pending further investigation. The law enforcement exception applies to this information about ongoing criminal investigations. 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). Based on your representations, we conclude that you may withhold offense report #0536803-F pursuant to section 552.108(a)(1).
Section 552.108 does not, however, except from required public disclosure "basic information about an arrested person, an arrest, or a crime." Gov't Code § 552.108(c). This office considers such basic information to encompass the front page offense report information the court held to be public in Houston Chronicle. You must release these types of information in accordance with Houston Chronicle. However, if the records contain information that is confidential by law, you must not release such information at any time. Gov't Code §§ 552.101, .352.
You contend that the offense reports contain criminal history reports which are excepted from public disclosure pursuant to 552.101 of the Government Code. Section 552.101 of the Government Code excepts from disclosure "information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision." This section encompasses information protected by other statutes. We first recognize that section 552.101 of the Government Code excepts from disclosure criminal history report information ("CHRI"). Where 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) (concluding that federal regulations which limit access to criminal history record information that states obtain from the federal government or other states recognize privacy interest in such information). Similarly, open records decisions issued by this office acknowledge this privacy interest. See Open Records Decision Nos. 616 (1993), 565 (1990). It appears that the named individual is not listed as a suspect but only as a complainant or not at all. Based on our interpretation and review of the submitted records, it does not appear that a right of privacy is implicated here.
You have submitted two other offense reports that appear to be responsive to the request. However, since these incidents do not appear to be pending investigation, section 552.108 of the Government Code does not apply. We conclude that you must release offense reports # 0395951-G and #0286237-G.
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.
David Van Brunt Price
Ref: ID# 124192
Encl: Submitted documents
cc: Ms. Preciouse Degree
POST OFFICE BOX 12548, AUSTIN, TEXAS 78711-2548 TEL: (512) 463-2100 WEB: WWW.OAG.STATE.TX.US