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

November 1, 1999

Mr. Monty Wade Sullivan
Assistant City Attorney
City of Houston
P.O. Box 1562
Houston, Texas 77251-1562

OR99-3068

Dear Mr. Sullivan:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 128488.

The Houston Police Department (the "department") received a request for three offense reports. You have released one of the requested reports. You claim that the remaining two offense reports are 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.

Section 552.101 of the Government Code excepts from disclosure "information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision." This section encompasses information protected by other statutes. Section 261.201(a) of the Family states in relevant part as follows:

(a) The following information is confidential, is not subject to public release under Chapter 552, Government Code, and may be disclosed only for purposes consistent with this code and applicable federal or state law or under rules adopted by an investigating agency:

(1) a report of alleged or suspected abuse or neglect made under this chapter and the identity of the person making the report; and

(2) except as otherwise provided in this section, the files, reports, records, communications, and working papers used or developed in an investigation under this chapter or in providing services as a result of an investigation.

Fam. Code 261.201(a). We believe that offense report number 051692597M consists of reports, records, and working papers used or developed in an investigation made under chapter 261 of the Family Code. Because you have not cited any specific rule that the investigating agency has adopted with regard to the release of this type of information, we assume that no such regulation exists. Given that assumption, offense report number 051692597M is confidential pursuant to section 261.201 of the Family Code. See Open Records Decision No. 440 at 2 (1986) (construing predecessor statute). Accordingly, the department must withhold offense report number 051692597M from disclosure under section 552.101 of the Government Code as information made confidential by law.

Next, we will consider your section 552.108(a)(2) claim as to offense report number 124300496O. Section 552.108(a)(2) excepts from disclosure information concerning an investigation that concluded in a result other than conviction or deferred adjudication. You assert that offense report number 124300496O pertains to a case that concluded in a result other than conviction or deferred adjudication. Therefore, we agree that section 552.108(a)(2) is applicable.

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 Publishing 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 report information, you may withhold offense report number 124300496O from disclosure based on section 552.108(a)(2). We note that you have the discretion to release all or part of offense report number 124300496O that is not otherwise confidential by law, such as information protected by common-law privacy. Gov't Code 552.007.

Lastly, we note that although you assert that section 58.007(c) of the Family Code makes the requested information confidential, we find that section 58.007(c) is inapplicable to the information at issue. Prior to its repeal by the Seventy-fourth Legislature, section 51.14(d) of the Family Code provided for the confidentiality of juvenile law enforcement records. Law enforcement records pertaining to conduct occurring before January 1, 1996 are governed by the former section 51.14(d), which was continued in effect for that purpose. Act of May 27, 1995, 74th Leg., R.S., ch. 262, 100, 1995 Tex. Gen. Laws 2517, 2591 (Vernon). This office concluded in 1996 that section 58.007 of the Family Code, as enacted by the Seventy-fourth Legislature, does not make confidential juvenile law enforcement records relating to conduct that occurred on or after January 1, 1996. Open Records Decision No. 644 (1996). The Seventy-fifth Legislature, however, amended section 58.007 to once again make juvenile law enforcement records confidential, effective September 1, 1997. Act of June 2, 1997, 75th Leg., R.S., ch. 1086, 1997 Tex. Sess. Law Serv. 4179, 4187 (Vernon).(1) It chose not to make this most recent amendment retroactive in application. Consequently, law enforcement records pertaining to juvenile conduct that occurred between January 1, 1996 and September 1, 1997, are not subject to the confidentiality provisions of either the former section 51.14(d) or the current section 58.007(c) of the Family Code. Offense report number 124300496O involves juvenile conduct that occurred in September 1996; therefore, the report is not confidential under either section 51.14(d) or 58.007(c).

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,

Yen-Ha Le
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

YHL\ljp

Ref: ID# 128488

Encl: Submitted documents

cc: Mr. Frank Huschle
Private Investigations
134 Live Oak
Alvin, Texas 77511
(w/o enclosures)


 

Footnotes

1. The Seventy-sixth Legislature also amended section 58.007(c). Act of May 26, 1999, 76th Leg., R.S., ch. 815, 1, 1999 Tex. Sess. Law Serv. 3448 (Vernon) (to be codified as an amendment to Fam. Code 58.007). The current amendments have no impact on the discussion here.
 

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