|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
March 1, 2000
Ms. Elaine S. Hengen
Dear Ms. Hengen:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 132621.
The City of El Paso (the "city") received a request for the Police Department's complete report pertaining to case number 99-340059. You claim that the requested information is 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.
You state that the city has released a copy of the first page of the incident report after redacting the juvenile information. You assert that, except for the first page of the incident report, the remainder of the incident report should be withheld from disclosure under section 552.101(1) and section 552.108. You argue that case report number 99-340059 is confidential under section 552.101 of the Government Code because it not only relates to an adult criminal matter but it also involves juvenile conduct. Section 552.101 encompasses confidentiality provisions such as section 58.007 of the Family Code. Juvenile law enforcement records relating to conduct that occurred on or after September 1, 1997, are confidential under 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 may not be disclosed to the public and shall be:
(1) kept separate from adult files and records; and
(2) maintained on a local basis only and not sent to a central state or federal depository, except as provided by Subchapter B.
The case report involves juvenile conduct that occurred after September 1, 1997. Section 58.007(c), therefore, deems the entire case report confidential, and section 58.007 does not provide for its release to the requestor. Accordingly, the city must withhold the entire case report from disclosure under section 552.101 of the Government Code.
Because we are able to make a determination under section 552.101, we need not address your claims under section 552.108. 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.
Ref: ID# 132621
Encl. Submitted documents
cc: Ms. Rosalinda Rosprim
1. You argue that the information relating to the detention of a juvenile is confidential under section 51.14(c) of the Family Code. This section is only applicable to information regarding juvenile conduct between November 1, 1996 and September 1, 1997. Information regarding juvenile conduct during this period is public information.
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