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

March 30, 2000

Ms. Maureen E. Ray
Assistant Disciplinary Counsel
State Bar of Texas
P.O. Box 12487
Austin, Texas 78711-2487

OR2000-1236

Dear Ms. Ray:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 133658.

The State Bar of Texas received a request for "all documents, records, or computer print-outs containing the course names, locations and descriptions of all CLE courses attended by [a particular attorney] in the 1996 calendar year." You claim that the requested information is excepted from disclosure under section 552.101 of the Government Code. We have considered the exception you claim and have reviewed the submitted sample of information.(1)

Section 552.101 of the Government Code excepts from disclosure information that is made confidential by law, including information made confidential by statute. The State Bar Rules provide:

The files, records and proceedings of the Committee [on Minimum Continuing Legal Education], as they related to the compliance or noncompliance of any member with the requirements of this Article, shall be confidential and shall not be disclosed except upon consent of the member affected or as directed in the course of judicial proceeding by a court of competent jurisdiction.

State Bar Rules, Gov't Code Ann., tit. 2, subtit. G app. A, art. 12, 12 (Vernon 1998). You inform us that the requested documents are records held by the Committee on Minimum Continuing Legal Education. We agree that the requested information is made confidential by the State Bar Rules provision cited above. The State Bar Rules have the same effect as statutes. Board of Law Examiners v. Stevens, 868 S.W.2d 773 (Tex. 1994); State Bar v. Wolfe, 801 S.W.2d 202, 203 (Tex.App.--Houston [1st Dist.] 1990, no writ); State Bar v. Edwards, 646 S.W.2d 543, 544 (Tex.App.--Houston [1st Dist.] 1982, writ ref'd n.r.e.). Therefore, we find that you must withhold the requested information from disclosure pursuant to the State Bar Rules in conjunction with section 552.101 of the Government Code.

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,

Kathryn S. Knechtel
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

KSK/ljp

Ref: ID# 133658

Encl. Submitted documents

cc: Mr. Robert C. Slim
Attorney and Counselor
8035 East R. L. Thornton, Suite 100
Dallas, Texas 75228
(w/o enclosures)


 

Footnotes

1. We assume that the "representative sample" of records submitted to this office is truly representative of the requested records as a whole. See Open Records Decision Nos. 499 (1988), 497 (1988). This open records letter does not reach, and therefore does not authorize the withholding of, any other requested records to the extent that those records contain substantially different types of information than that submitted to this office.
 

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