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June 2, 2000

Ms. Tenley Aldredge
Assistant County Attorney
County of Travis
P.O. Box 1748
Austin, Texas 78767

OR2000-2166

Dear Ms. Aldredge:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under the Public Information Act (the "Act"), chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 136315.

The Travis County Community Supervision and Corrections Department (the "department") received a request for the sign-in sheets of department orientations and general visits occurring on a specified date. You claim that pursuant to section 552.003 of the Government Code the "records constitute records of the judiciary" that are not subject to the Act. We have considered your argument and reviewed the submitted information.

The Act generally requires the public disclosure of information maintained by a "governmental body." While the Act's definition of a "governmental body" is broad, it specifically excludes the judiciary. See Gov't Code 552.003(1)(B). In determining whether a governmental entity falls within the judiciary exception of the Act, this office looks to whether the role of the judiciary is in a judicial capacity or solely administrative in nature. See Open Records Decision No. 646 at 2-3 (1996) (citing Benavides v. Lee, 665 S.W.2d 151 (Tex. App.--San Antonio 1983, no writ)).

You suggest that the sign-in sheets are not subject to the Act because they are records regarding individual probationers. You explain that the lists are used to track and compile the general orientation and office register lists of probationers within the jurisdiction of the department. This office has concluded that a community supervision and corrections department holds probationers' records on behalf of the judiciary as an agent of the judiciary. See Open Records Decision Nos. 646 at 5 (1996), 236 (1980) (records of an adult probation office, indicating whether probationers are complying with terms of probation, are records of the judiciary and not subject to the Act). The requested information constitutes the records of individuals on probation or community supervision. These records are maintained by the department at the direction of criminal courts as part of the courts' judicial functions. See Gov't Code 76.002 (requiring district judges trying criminal cases to establish community supervision and correction departments, enforce the conditions of community supervision, and participate in the management of the department). Therefore, we conclude that the documents at issue are records of the judiciary; accordingly, the department has no obligation under the Act regarding the release of the records.(1)

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,

Julie Reagan Watson
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

JRW/nc

Ref: ID# 136315

Encl. Submitted documents

cc: Mr. Richard Knowlton
8309 Wagtail Cove
Austin, Texas 78748


 

Footnotes

1. The release of the requested information is within the discretion of the court, acting through its agent, the department. See Open Records Decision No. 646 at 4 n. 3 (1996) (citing Open Records Decision No. 236 at 2-3 (1980)).


 

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