|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
June 20, 2000
Ms. Judith A. Hunter
Dear Ms. Hunter:
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# 136348.
The City of Georgetown (the "city") received a request for a copy of citation number 73458. You claim that the information is excepted from disclosure under sections 552.101 and 552.108 of the Government Code. We have considered the exceptions 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 confidentiality provisions such as Family Code section 58.007. Section 58.007(c), with exceptions not applicable here, prohibits public disclosure of law enforcement records and files concerning child offender conduct that occurred on or after September 1, 1997. This statute does not make citations for traffic offenses confidential. See Fam. Code §§ 51.02(16) (definition of traffic offense), 51.03(a) (delinquent conduct does not include traffic offense), 51.03(b) (conduct indicating need for supervision does not include traffic offense). Thus, you may not withhold the requested information under section 552.101 of the Government Code in conjunction with section 58.007 of the Family Code.
Additionally, based upon information on the face of the citation and your assertion that charges have been filed with the Williamson County Attorney's Office, it appears that the document submitted for our review has been filed with a court. Section 552.022(a)(17) of the Government Code states that information that is also contained in a public court record is not excepted from disclosure under the Act, unless confidential under other law. Moreover, documents filed with a court are generally considered public. Star-Telegram, Inc. v. Walker, 834 S.W.2d 54 (Tex. 1992). Therefore, because the document submitted has been filed with a court, the city must release the citation to the requestor. Because section 552.022(a)(17) is dispositive, we do not address your other claimed exception.(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.
Ref: ID# 136348
Encl. Submitted documents
cc: Ms. Colette Tichenor
1. Further, we do not address the application of section 552.108 to the citation submitted because information that is within the ambit of section 552.022(a)(17) cannot be withheld under section 552.108. See generally Open Records Decision No. 665 at 2, n.5 (2000) (explaining that discretionary exceptions are not confidentiality provisions).
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