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August 30, 1999

Mr. Jesus Toscano, Jr.
Administrative Assistant City Attorney
City of Dallas
City Hall
Dallas, Texas 75201

OR99-2436

Dear Mr. Toscano:

You ask 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# 126925.

The City of Dallas (the "city") received a request for the official court transcript and all documents presented at the re-instatement hearing of a specific police officer. You have submitted a representative sample of the transcript from the administrative hearing.(1) You contend that because the transcript was made during a closed session, the requested information is confidential under the Texas Open Meetings Act, chapter 551 of the Government Code. We have reviewed the submitted materials. We do not believe, nor have you demonstrated, that the hearing at issue was conducted in accordance with the Open Meetings Act. See Gov't Code 551.001 (defining "governmental body," "meeting," and "closed meeting"); see also Attorney General Opinion JM-331 (1985) (concluding citizens advisory panel of Office of Public Utility Counsel, with no power to supervise or control public business, is not governmental body). Consequently, the city may not withhold the transcript on these grounds.

We note, however, that the submitted documents contain information that is protected from disclosure under section 552.117(2). Section 552.117(2) of the Government Code provides that information is excepted from disclosure if it relates to a peace officer's home address, home telephone number, social security number, or reveals whether the peace officer has family members. Cf. Open Records Decision Nos. 622 (1994) (section 552.117 excepts from disclosure former home addresses and former home telephone numbers), 455 (1987). Thus, you must withhold this information as contained within the submitted documents.

We also note that certain information contained in the transcript is protected by common-law privacy. The doctrine of common-law privacy protects information if it is highly intimate or embarrassing such that its release would be highly objectionable to a reasonable person and the public has no legitimate interest in it. Industrial Found. v. Texas Indus. Accident Bd., 540 S.W.2d 668 (Tex. 1976), cert. denied, 430 U.S. 931 (1977). The types of information considered intimate and embarrassing by the Texas Supreme Court in Industrial Foundation included information relating to sexual assault, pregnancy, mental or physical abuse in the workplace, illegitimate children, psychiatric treatment of mental disorders, attempted suicide, and injuries to sexual organs. Id. at 683. We have reviewed the transcript, and have marked the information that must be withheld under common-law privacy. The remaining information must be released.

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 on as a previous determination regarding any other records. If you have any questions regarding this ruling, please contact our office.

Sincerely,

June B. Harden
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

JBH/ch

Ref: ID# 126925

Encl. Submitted documents

cc: Ms. Gabrielle Camus
2804 Shady Brook Drive
Bedford, Texas 76021
(w/o enclosures)


 

Footnotes

1. You have not, however, submitted any other documents responsive to this request. Therefore, to the extent such documents exist, those documents must be released to the requestor. See Gov't Code 552.301. Furthermore, we assume that the "representative sample" of records submitted to this office is truly representative of the requested records as a whole. See Open Records Decision Nos. 499 (1988), 497 (1988). This open records letter does not reach, and, therefore, does not authorize the withholding of, any other requested records to the extent that those records contain substantially different types of information than that submitted to this office.
 

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