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  Brazos County

August 19, 1999

Mr. Bill Turner
District Attorney
Brazos County
300 E. 26th Street, Suite 310
Bryan, Texas 77803

OR99-2346

Dear Mr. Turner:

You have asked whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 128100.

Ervin L. Cain, Justice of the Peace of Precinct 2 of Brazos County, received a request for a copy of an autopsy report. The Texas Open Records Act, chapter 552 of the Government Code, does not apply to records of the judiciary. See Gov't Code 552.003(1)(B). Because a justice of the peace is a member of the judiciary, records maintained by a justice of the peace are not subject to disclosure under chapter 552. See Tex. Const. art. V, 1; Open Records Decision No. 25 (1974). However, in Open Records Letter No.98-3307 (1998), we addressed the question of an autopsy report ordered by a justice of the peace in a county without a medical examiner and made part of an inquest record is open to public inspection. We have enclosed a copy of that ruling, which concludes:

To summarize, article 49.15(d) of the Code of Criminal Procedure deems an inquest summary report confidential and subject to inspection only by order of the district court. Article 49.15(a) of the Code of Criminal Procedure does not make an inquest record confidential, and therefore, an inquest record, including an autopsy report, is open to public inspection pursuant to section 27.004 of the Government Code and the common-law right to inspect records of the judiciary.

Open Records Letter No. 98-3307 at 4 (1998).

We are resolving this matter with an informal letter ruling rather than with a published open records decision. If you have any questions about this ruling, please contact our office.

Sincerely,

Ruth H. Soucy
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

RHS/ch

Ref: ID# 128100

Encl. Submitted documents, copy of Open Records Letter No. 98-3307 (1998)

cc: Ms. Veronica Serrano
Texas A&M Department of Journalism
Division of Student Publications
015 Reed McDonald Building
College Station, Texas 77843-1111
(w/o enclosures, w/copy of Open Records Letter No. 98-3307 (1998))


 

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