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December 6, 1999

Ms. Judith A. Hunter
City of Georgetown
City Attorney's Office
P.O. Box 409
Georgetown, Texas 78627-0409

OR99-3306

Dear Ms. Hunter:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 130048.

The City of Georgetown (the "city") received a request for records relating to "Colby A.L. Shanklin since age 17 - POM's, felonies, misdemeanors, etc. & and papers of arrest(s)." You indicate that you have released "the upper portion of the front page of each arrest report and the front page of each offense report." You claim that portions of the submitted information are excepted from disclosure pursuant to Government Code section 552.101 in conjunction with section 58.007 of the Family Code. Additionally, you assert that the remaining submitted information is excepted from disclosure under section 552.108 of the Government Code. We have considered the exceptions you claim and have reviewed the submitted information.

You assert that documents you have submitted labeled as "Exhibit C" and "Exhibit D" are excepted from disclosure under Government Code section 552.101 in conjunction with section 58.007 of the Family Code. Section 552.101 excepts from public disclosure "information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision." Juvenile law enforcement records relating to conduct that occurred on or after September 1, 1997 are confidential under Family Code section 58.007. The relevant language of section 58.007(c), as amended by the Seventy-sixth Legislature,(1) reads as follows:

(C) Except as provided by Subsection (d), law enforcement records and files concerning a child and information stored, by electronic means or otherwise, concerning the child from which a record or file could be generated may not be disclosed to the public and shall be:

(1) if maintained on paper or microfilm, kept separate from adult files and records;

(2) if maintained electronically in the same computer system as records or files relating to adults, be accessible under controls that are separate and distinct from controls to access electronic data concerning adults; and

(3) maintained on a local basis only and not sent to a central state or federal depository, except as provided by Subchapter B.

Here, the submitted information in Exhibit C does not involve a juvenile offender. Records containing names of juvenile witnesses are not confidential under Family Code section 58.007. However, the information in Exhibit D involves juvenile conduct that occurred after September 1, 1997. It does not appear that any of the exceptions in section 58.007 apply. Thus, the records in Exhibit D are made confidential by amended section 58.007 of the Family Code. Accordingly, you must withhold Exhibit D in its entirety under section 552.101 of the Government Code in conjunction with section 58.007 of the Family Code.

We will now consider your claim that Exhibit C and the remaining information are excepted from disclosure under Government Code section 552.108. 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 cases in which there are ongoing investigations and prosecutions. 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). Thus, you may withhold the portions of the submitted information which have not been released.

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). 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.

Additionally, we note that Exhibit B contains documents which appear to be records filed with a court. Specifically, the documents are the affidavit for arrest, the warrant of arrest, and the misdemeanor complaint. Documents filed with a court are generally considered public and must be released. Star-Telegram, Inc. v. Walker, 834 S.W.2d 54, 57 (Tex. 1992).

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 Dic
Assistant Attorney General Open Records Division
CGD/cwt

Ref: ID# 130048

Encl. Submitted documents

cc: Ms. Nona Shanklin Mau
408 E. 21st
Georgetown, Texas 78627-0409
(w/o enclosures)


 

Footnotes

1. 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).

2. The content of the information determines whether it must be released in compliance with Houston Chronicle, not its literal location on the first page of an offense report. Open Records Decision No. 127 (1976) contains a summary of the types of information deemed public by Houston Chronicle.
 

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