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July 12, 2000

Mr. Kevin E. Oliver
Cooper & Scully
900 Jackson Street, Suite 100
Dallas, Texas 75202

OR2000-2599

Dear Mr. Oliver:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 137383.

The City of Coppell (the "city"), which you represent, received a request for any information report or any type of report taken by a police officer at a specific address on May 5, 2000 between the hours of 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. 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.

You contend that the requested information is confidential under section 58.007 of the Family Code. 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 of the Family Code provides for the confidentiality of juvenile law enforcement records. Juvenile law enforcement records relating to conduct that occurred on or after September 1, 1997 are confidential under section 58.007. Family Code section 51.04(a) states that the Juvenile Justice Code, Title 3 of the Family Code, "covers the proceedings in all cases involving the delinquent conduct or conduct indicating the need for supervision engaged in by a person who was a child within the meaning of [Title 3] at the time he engaged in the conduct." Thus, section 58.007 deems confidential law enforcement records from all cases involving a child engaging in delinquent conduct or conduct indicating the need for supervision. The submitted information report is not the type of record that section 58.007 covers because it did not involve delinquent conduct or conduct indicating the need for supervision as defined by section 51.03. Therefore, we conclude that the submitted information is not excepted from disclosure under section 552.101 of the Government Code in conjunction with section 58.007 of the Family Code. Consequently, the city must release the submitted documents to the requestor.

We note, however, that the submitted report contains a social security number. Social security numbers may be withheld in some circumstances under section 552.101 of the Government Code. A social security number or "related record" may be excepted from disclosure under section 552.101 in conjunction with the 1990 amendments to the federal Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. 405(c)(2)(C)(viii)(I). See Open Records Decision No. 622 (1994). These amendments make confidential social security numbers and related records that are obtained and maintained by a state agency or political subdivision of the state pursuant to any provision of law enacted on or after October 1, 1990. See id. We have no basis for concluding that the social security number in the report here is confidential under section 405(c)(2)(C)(viii)(I), and therefore excepted from public disclosure on the basis of that federal provision. We caution, however, that section 552.353 of the Public Information Act imposes criminal penalties for the release of confidential information. Prior to releasing any social security number information, you should ensure that no such information was obtained or is maintained pursuant to any provision of law, enacted on or after October 1, 1990.

Finally, the submitted report also contains motor vehicle information that is confidential under section 552.130 of the Government Code. Section 552.130 excepts from required public disclosure information that relates to a motor vehicle operator's or driver's license or permit issued by an agency of this state or a motor vehicle title or registration issued by an agency of this state. Therefore, under section 552.130, the city must withhold the Texas driver's license numbers that appear in the submitted documents.

In summary, the city must release the submitted report to the requestor. However, the city must redact the Texas driver's license numbers that appear in the report prior to its release. The city also may have to withhold the social security number that appears in the documents as explained in the above discussion.

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,

Noelle C. Letteri
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

ncl/nc

Ref: ID# 137383

Encl. Submitted documents

cc: Ms. Peggy Quinn
305 Beechwood Lane
Coppell, Texas 75019
(w/o enclosures)


 

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