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May 12, 2000

Ms. Deanie Bostick-Martin
Records System Supervisor
City of Lubbock Police Department
P. O. Box 2000
Lubbock, Texas 79457

OR2000-1883

Dear Ms. Bostick-Martin:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 136769.

The Lubbock Police Department (the "department") received a request for copies of all documents relating to a specified individual including arrest sheets and incident reports. 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 reviewed the submitted information.

Section 552.101 excepts from disclosure "information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision." Section 552.101 encompasses common-law privacy. Where an individual's criminal history information has been compiled by a governmental entity, the information takes on a character that implicates the individual's right to privacy. See United States Dep't of Justice v. Reporters Comm. for Freedom of the Press, 489 U.S. 749 (1989). In this instance, the requestor asks for all information concerning a specified individual. In this case, we believe that the individual's right to privacy has been implicated. Thus, where the named individual is a possible suspect, we conclude that you must withhold this information under section 552.101 of the Government Code. We have marked the information that you may withhold under section 552.101 and Reporter's Committee.

However, the submitted information in which the specified individual is not a suspect may not be withheld under section 552.101 and Reporter's Committee and must be released. However, we note that some of the submitted police reports contain information excepted from disclosure under section 552.130(a). Section 552.130(a) of the Government Code excepts from disclosure information relating to a driver's license and motor vehicle title or registration issued by an agency of this state. We have marked a driver's license number as well as license plate and VIN numbers which are protected from disclosure under section 552.130(a). You must withhold this information but release the remaining information in the police reports in which the specified individual is not a suspect.

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,

Jennifer Bialek
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

JHB/pr

Ref: ID# 136769

Encl. Marked documents

cc: Mr. John L. McMaster
9288 Ranch Road 33
Garden City, Texas 79739
(w/o enclosures)


 

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