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

March 3, 2000

Mr. Steven D. Monté
Assistant City Attorney
Criminal Law and Police Division
City of Dallas
2014 Main Street, Room 206
Dallas, Texas 75201

OR2000-0894

Dear Mr. Monté:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 134686.

The Dallas Police Department (the "department") received a request for a particular offense report. 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 have reviewed the documents submitted.

Section 552.108 excepts from disclosure information held by a law enforcement agency or prosecutor that deals with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime is excepted from the requirements of 552.021 if release of the information would interfere with the detection, investigation or prosecution of crime. Generally, a governmental body claiming an exception under section 552.108 must reasonably explain, if the information does not supply the explanation on its face, how and why the release of the requested information would interfere with law enforcement. See Gov't Code 552.108(a)(1), (b)(1), .301(b)(1); see also Ex parte Pruitt, 551 S.W.2d 706 (Tex. 1977). You state that the responsive offense report relates to a pending criminal investigation. Accordingly, we find that release of the requested information would interfere with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime. See Houston Chronicle Publ'g Co. v. City of Houston, 531 S.W.3d 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 that are present in active cases). We conclude, therefore, that section 552.108(a)(1) is applicable to the requested information.

We note, however, that information normally found on the front page of an offense report is generally considered public. Gov't Code 552.108(c); Houston Chronicle, 536 S.W.2d at 559; Open Records Decision No. 127 (1976). Thus, you must release the types of information that is considered to be front page offense report information, even if this information is not actually located on the front page of the offense report.

However, because the offense report contains information about an alleged sexual assault, certain front page offense report information is excepted from disclosure under section 552.101 of the Government Code. In sexual assault cases, section 552.101 excepts from public disclosure certain information that is not normally excepted under section 552.108. Section 552.101 excepts from public disclosure "information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision." Under section 552.101, information may be withheld on the basis of common law privacy. The doctrine of common law privacy protects information if it is highly intimate or embarrassing such that its release would be highly objectionable to a reasonable person and the public has no legitimate interest in it. Industrial Found. v. Texas Indus. Accident Bd., 540 S.W.2d 668 (Tex. 1976), cert. denied, 430 U.S. 931 (1977). Accordingly, we have marked the sexual assault victim's identifying information that you must withhold pursuant to common law privacy. See Open Records Decision Nos. 393 (1983), 339 (1982). You must release all other front page offense report information.

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 Dep't 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/ljp

Ref.: ID# 134686

Encl. Marked documents

cc: Ms. Richelle Williams
9451 Gonzales
Dallas, Texas 75227
(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