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September 23, 1999

Mr. Duncan R. Fox
Assistant Chief, Legal Services
Texas Department of Public Safety
5805 N. Lamar Boulevard
Austin, Texas 78773-0001

OR99-2688

Dear Mr. Fox:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 128255.

The Texas Department of Public Safety (the "department") received a request for records related to an automobile accident. You claim that the requested information is excepted from disclosure under section 552.108 of the Government Code.(1) We have considered the exception you claim and reviewed the submitted information.

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). You inform us that the requested information pertains to a case in which there is an ongoing investigation and prosecution. Therefore, we agree that the release of the information "would interfere with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime." 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) (court delineates law enforcement interests present in active cases).

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). Thus, with the exception of the basic front page offense and arrest information,(2) the department may withhold the requested information from disclosure based on section 552.108(a)(1).(3) Although section 552.108(a)(1) authorizes you to withhold the remaining information from disclosure, you may choose to release all or part of the information at issue that is not otherwise confidential by law. See Gov't Code 552.007.

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,

Carla Gay Dickson
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

CGD/ch

Ref: ID# 129255

Encl. Submitted documents

cc: Mr. Mike Cox
Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Companies
911 West Anderson Lane, Suite 113
Austin, Texas 78757-0000
(w/o enclosures)

Mr. Travis McDonald
Assistant Williamson County District Attorney
405 MLK, Suite 1
Georgetown, Texas 78626
(w/o enclosures)


 
 

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