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

April 24, 2000

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

OR2000-1584

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# 134439.

The City of Garland (the "city") received a request for information pertaining to arrest report number P200E009594. You claim that the requested information is excepted from disclosure under sections 552.108 and 552.130 of the Government Code. We have considered the exception you claim and reviewed the submitted information.(1)

Section 552.108(a)(1) excepts from disclosure "[i]nformation held by a law enforcement agency or prosecutor that deals with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime . . . 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 explain that the submitted information pertains to "an investigation of the alleged offense." Due to the recent date of the offense, as reflected in the submitted reports, we understand your argument to mean that the investigation remains ongoing. Based on this understanding, we find that release of the submitted information would interfere with an ongoing criminal case, and therefore, the submitted reports are both subject to section 552.108(a)(1).

We note, however, that information normally found on the front page of an offense report is generally considered public. See generally Gov't Code 552.108(c); Houston Chronicle Publ'g Co. v. City of Houston, 531 S.W.2d 177 (Tex. Civ. pp.--Houston [14th Dist.] 1975), writ ref'd n.r.e. per curiam, 536 S.W.2d 559 (Tex. 1976); Open Records Decision No. 127 (1976). Thus, in regard to the two submitted reports, the city must release the type 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 reports. Although section 552.108(a)(1) authorizes the city to withhold the remaining information in the reports from disclosure, you may choose to release all or part of the reports that is not otherwise confidential by law. See Gov't Code 552.007.(2)

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,

E. Joanna Fitzgerald
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division
EJF\nc
Ref: ID# 134439
Encl: Submitted documents

cc: Ms. Judy Rogers-Whinery
2661 Larry Drive
Dallas, Texas 75228
(w/o enclosures)


 

Footnotes

1. The information at issue consists of the arrest report specified above, as well as the related incident report.

2. Because we find that section 552.108(a)(1) is dispositive of this matter, we do not address your other arguments. We note, however, that should you choose to release the submitted reports, you must still withhold the motor vehicle information as it is confidential under section 552.130 of the Government Code.
 

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