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

December 13, 1999

Lieutenant Arturo Valdez
Central Record Division
City of McAllen Police Department
1501 Pecan Blvd.
McAllen, Texas 78501

OR99-3611

Dear Lieutenant. Valdez:

You ask whethe certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 131815.

The City of McAllen Police Department (the "city") received a request for an offense report. You have provided for our review information that is responsive to the request. You claim that the requested information is excepted from disclosure under section 51.14(d) of the Family Code. We have considered the exception 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." Section 552.101 encompasses confidentiality provisions such as Family Code section 58.007. The relevant language of section 58.007(c) 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. Juvenile law enforcement records relating to conduct that occurred on or after September 1, 1997 are confidential under section 58.007.

We have previously found that section 58.007 of the Family Code does not make confidential juvenile law enforcement records concerning juvenile conduct occurring on or after January 1, 1996, that are maintained by law enforcement agencies. Open Records Decision No. 644. However, the Seventy-fifth Legislature passed House Bill 1550 which amends the Family Code and in part overrules Open Records Decision No. 644. Act of June 2, 1997, H.B. 1550, 75th Leg., R.S., ch. 1086, 20, 1997 Tex. Gen. Laws 4179, 4187. Juvenile offender records held by law enforcement agencies are now expressly confidential under section 58.007(c) of the Family Code. However, section 58.007(c) only applies to juvenile law enforcement records concerning conduct that occurred on or after September 1, 1997. Thus, Open Records Decision No. 644 continues to apply to records concerning juvenile conduct that occurred from January 1, 1996 to August 31, 1997.

Here, the requested information involves juvenile conduct that occurred on September 14, 1996. Accordingly, section 58.007 of the Family Code does not make the requested information confidential. Open Records Decision No. 644 applies and the requested information must be released.

This letter ruling is limited to the particular records at issue in this request and limited to the facts as presented to us; therefore, this ruling must not be relied upon as a previous determination regarding any other records or any other circumstances.

This ruling triggers important deadlines regarding the rights and responsibilities of the governmental body and of the requestor. For example, governmental bodies are prohibited from asking the attorney general to reconsider this ruling. Gov't Code 552.301(f). If the governmental body wants to challenge this ruling, the governmental body must appeal by filing suit in Travis County within 30 calendar days. Id. 552.324(b). In order to get the full benefit of such an appeal, the governmental body must file suit within 10 calendar days. Id. 552.353(b)(3), (c). If the governmental body does not appeal this ruling and the governmental body does not comply with it, then both the requestor and the attorney general have the right to file suit against the governmental body to enforce this ruling. Id. 552.321(a).

If this ruling requires the governmental body to release all or part of the requested information, the governmental body is responsible for taking the next step. Based on the statute, the attorney general expects that, within 10 calendar days of this ruling, the governmental body will do one of the following three things: 1) release the public records; 2) notify the requestor of the exact day, time, and place that copies of the records will be provided or that the records can be inspected; or 3) notify the requestor of the governmental body's intent to challenge this letter ruling in court. If the governmental body fails to do one of these three things within 10 calendar days of this ruling, then the requestor should report that failure to the attorney general's Open Government Hotline, toll free, at 877/673-6839. The requestor may also file a complaint with the district or county attorney. Id. 552.3215(e).

If this ruling requires or permits the governmental body to withhold all or some of the requested information, the requestor can appeal that decision by suing the governmental body. Id. 552.321(a); Texas Department of Public Safety v. Gilbreath, 842 S.W.2d 408, 411 (Tex. App.-Austin 1992, no writ).

If the governmental body, the requestor, or any other person has questions or comments about this ruling, they may contact our office. Although there is no statutory deadline for contacting us, the attorney general prefers to receive any comments within 10 calendar days of the date of this ruling.

Sincerely,

Yen-Ha Le
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

YHL/KK/cwt

Ref: ID# 131815

Encl. Submitted documents

cc: Ms. Nora Nancy Garcia Sancho
4020 Karen Lane
McAllen, Texas 75672
(w/o enclosures)


 

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