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  Houston

July 7, 1999

Ms. Tracy B. Calabrese
Senior Assistant City Attorney
Legal Department
City of Houston
P.O. Box 1562
Houston, Texas 77251-1562

OR99-1895

Dear Ms. Calabrese:

You have asked whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under the Public Information Act, chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 124838.

The City of Houston (the "city") received a request for information pertaining to a named individual and also information pertaining to a particular address. You contend that responding to the request for information about the named individual would require compiling a criminal history, which is protected from disclosure under section 552.101 of the Government Code. You also assert that information pertaining to the named address, submitted to this office as Exhibit 6, is protected from disclosure under section 552.108 of the Government Code.

Section 552.101 excepts "information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision." Section 552.101 encompasses the doctrines of common-law and constitutional privacy. Common-law privacy protects information if (1) the information contains highly intimate or embarrassing facts the publication of which would be highly objectionable to a reasonable person, and (2) the information is not of legitimate concern to the public. Industrial Found. v. Texas Indus. Accident Bd., 540 S.W.2d 668, 685 (Tex. 1976), cert. denied, 430 U.S. 931 (1977). The compilation of all offense reports of a named individual constitutes a criminal history record of that individual. Criminal history information may be withheld from required public disclosure under common-law privacy if it meets the criteria articulated for section 552.101 of the act by the Texas Supreme Court in Industrial Foundation.

In United States Department of Justice v. Reporters Committee For Freedom of the Press, 489 U.S. 749 (1989), the United States Supreme Court concluded that where an individual's CHRI is compiled or summarized by a governmental entity, the information takes on a character that implicates an individual's right of privacy in a manner that the same individual records in an uncompiled state do not. Based on Reporters Committee, this office has concluded that a request for all law enforcement records of a specified individual implicates the individual's common-law privacy rights, and the responsive information is excepted from disclosure under section 552.101. Thus, you may not release any law enforcement records pertaining to the named individual as a suspect.

Section 552.108 of the Government Code states that information held by a law enforcement agency or prosecutor that deals with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime is excepted from required public disclosure "if release of the information would interfere with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime." Gov't Code 552.108(a)(1). However, section 552.108 is inapplicable to basic information about an arrested person, an arrest, or a crime. Gov't Code 552.108(c). We believe such basic information refers to the information held to be public in 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).

You indicate that Exhibit 6 concerns a case that has not concluded and is still pending. You must release the basic front page offense and arrest information, but we agree that the remaining information in Exhibit 6 may be withheld from disclosure on the basis of section 552.108(a)(1).

We are resolving this matter with this 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 may not be relied upon as a previous determination regarding any other records. If you have questions about this ruling, please contact our office.

Sincerely,

Ruth H. Soucy
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

RHS/ch

Ref.: ID# 126711

Encl. Submitted documents

cc: Mr. Charles McFarland
Vinson & Elkins
2300 First City Tower
1001 Fannin Street
Houston, Texas 77002-6760
(w/o enclosures)


 

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