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March 24, 2000

Mr. M. Shannon Kackley
Assistant City Attorney
City of Garland
P.O. Box 469002
Garland, Texas 75046-9002

OR2000-1152

Dear Mr. Kackley:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 133651.

The City of Garland (the "city ") received a request for offense report number 7894. You indicate that you have released to the requestor a redacted copy of the offense report. You claim that the remaining information is excepted from disclosure under section 552.108 of the Government Code. We have considered the exception you claim and have reviewed the submitted information.

Section 552.108(a) 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 or information maintained by a law enforcement agency or prosecutor for internal use 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). Likewise, section 552.108(b) excepts from disclosure internal records or notations of a law enforcement agency or prosecutor maintained for internal if release would interfere with law enforcement or prosecutorial efforts. Gov't Code 552.108(b)(1). 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). Neither your letter to our office nor the information on its face provides an adequate showing of how and why the release of the submitted information would interfere with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of a crime. In particular, you did not explain the status of the case to which the requested report relates. Thus, we conclude that you may not withhold the submitted information pursuant to section 552.108 of the Government Code. The offense report must be released to the requestor, with the following exception.

We note that the submitted information contains a driver's license number. Section 552.130 of the Government Code excepts information that relates to a motor vehicle operator's or driver's license or permit issued by an agency of this state or a motor vehicle title or registration issued by an agency of this state. Therefore, you must withhold the driver's license number. We have marked the information that you must withhold under section 552.130.

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,

Carla Gay Dickson
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

CGD/ch

Ref: ID# 133651

Encl. Submitted documents

cc: Mr. Tim Wood
3334 Broadway, # 414
Garland, Texas 75043
(w/o enclosures)


 

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