Click for home page Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
John Cornyn
image
 

August 6, 1999

Ms. Joni M. Vollman
Assistant General Counsel
Office of the District Attorney
Harris County
201 Fannin, Suite 200
Houston, Texas 77002-1901

OR99-2203

Dear Ms. Vollman:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 127800.

The Harris County District Attorney's Office (the "office") received a request for the district attorney's files regarding a certain defendant. 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 submitted Exhibit B which you claim to be criminal history report information. We note that such information is confidential and not subject to disclosure. Section 552.101 excepts from disclosure "information deemed confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision." This section encompasses information protected by other statutes. Federal regulations prohibit the release of CHRI maintained in state and local CHRI systems to the general public. See 28 C.F.R. 20.21(c)(1) ("Use of criminal history record information disseminated to noncriminal justice agencies shall be limited to the purpose for which it was given"), (2) ("No agency or individual shall confirm the existence or nonexistence of criminal history record information to any person or agency that would not be eligible to receive the information itself"). Section 411.083 provides that any CHRI maintained by the Department of Public Safety ("DPS") is confidential. Gov't Code 411.083(a). Similarly, CHRI obtained from the DPS pursuant to statute is also confidential and may only be disclosed in very limited instances. Id. 411.084; see also 411.087 (restrictions on disclosure of CHRI obtained from DPS also apply to CHRI obtained from other criminal justice agencies). Therefore, you must withhold the CHRI in Exhibit B from the requestor.

As for Exhibit A, section 552.108 provides in part:

(a) Information held by a law enforcement agency or prosecutor that deals with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021 if:

* * *

(3) it is information that:

(A) is prepared by an attorney representing the state in anticipation of or in the course of preparing for criminal litigation;

(B) reflects the mental impressions or legal reasoning of an attorney representing the state.

(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 is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021 if:

* * *

(3) the internal record or notation:

(A) is prepared by an attorney representing the state in anticipation of or in the course of preparing for criminal litigation;

(B) reflects the mental impressions or legal reasoning of an attorney representing the state.

(c) This section does not except from the requirements of Section 552.021 information that is basic information about an arrested person, an arrest, or a crime.

Gov't Code 552.108. You assert that the records requested "constitute the work product of the prosecutors for the Harris County District Attorney's Office, including handwritten and typed notes of prosecutors and their investigators, inter-office memorandum, the D.I.M.S. sheet, and the cover folders of the prosecutors' files, which contain handwritten notes of the prosecutors." We agree that the requested documents come within the purview of section 552.108(a)(3). Thus, we conclude that the information in Exhibit A may be withheld under section 552.108(a)(3).

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,

Sue M. Lee
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

SML\nc

Ref: ID# 127800

Encl: Submitted documents

cc: Mr. Ken J. McLean
Attorney at Law
1900 North Loop West, Suite 500
Houston, Texas 77018-8120
(w/o enclosures)


 

POST OFFICE BOX 12548, AUSTIN, TEXAS 78711-2548 TEL: (512) 463-2100 WEB: WWW.OAG.STATE.TX.US
An Equal Employment Opportunity Employer


Home | ORLs