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

December 30, 1999

Mr. Tommy W. Lueders
Assistant City Attorney
City of Midland
P.O. Box 1152
Midland, Texas 79702-1152

OR99-3828

Dear Mr. Lueders:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 130953.

The City of Midland (the "city") received a request for information regarding case number P9910150031. You state that the basic front page information has been released to the requestor. However, you seek to withhold the highlighted portions of the report 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 552.108(a)(2) excepts from disclosure information concerning an investigation that concluded in a result other than conviction or deferred adjudication. You assert that the part of the requested information deals with the investigation of a crime and the investigation has not resulted in conviction or deferred adjudication. It appears from our review of the records at issue that the police investigation regarding this matter has concluded. Therefore, the city may withhold those portions of the information, which we have marked, from disclosure under section 552.108(a)(2).

Section 552.101 of the Government Code excepts from disclosure "information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision." Information must be withheld from required public disclosure under common-law privacy if it meets the criteria articulated for section 552.101 by the Texas Supreme Court in Industrial Found. v. Texas Indus. Accident Bd., 540 S.W.2d 668 (Tex. 1976), cert. denied, 430 U.S. 931 (1977). Information must be withheld on the basis of common-law privacy, if:

(1) the information contains highly intimate or embarrassing facts the publication of which would be highly objectionable to a reasonable person, and (2) the information is not of legitimate concern to the public.

540 S.W.2d at 685. In Industrial Foundation, the Texas Supreme Court considered intimate and embarrassing information such as that 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. 540 S.W.2d at 683; see also, Open Records Decision Nos. 470 (concluding that fact that a person broke out in hives as a result of severe emotional distress is excepted by common-law privacy), 455 (1987) (concluding that kinds of prescription drugs a person is taking are protected by common-law privacy), 343 (1982) (concluding that information regarding drug overdoses, acute alcohol intoxication, obstetrical/gynecological illnesses, convulsions/seizures, or emotional/mental distress is protected by common-law privacy). We conclude that the remaining highlighted information and other information that we have marked may not be released pursuant to section 552.101 in conjunction with common-law privacy.

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,

Rose-Michel Munguía
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

RMM/jc

Ref: ID# 130953

Encl. Submitted documents

cc: Ms. Judith Swenson
2904 North I Street
Midland, Texas 79705
(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