|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
July 14, 2000
Chief Don Hatcher
Dear Chief Hatcher:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 137380.
The City of Leander Police Department (the "department") received a request for all incident reports related to a particular address. You indicate that you have already released to the requestor the "information as required in Open Records Decision No. 127."(1) You claim that "Attachment C," the information you have submitted for our review, is excepted from disclosure under section 552.108(a)(1) of the Government Code. We have considered the exception you claim and have reviewed the submitted information.
We note that certain documents you have submitted are excepted from disclosure under section 552.101 of the Government Code, which protects "information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision. Section 552.101 encompasses information made confidential by statute. Section 58.007(c) of the Family Code makes confidential juvenile law enforcement records relating to conduct that occurred on or after September 1, 1997. The relevant language of section 58.007(c), as amended by the Seventy-sixth Legislature, reads as follows:
(C) Except as provided by Subsection (d), law enforcement records and files concerning a child and information stored, by electronic means or otherwise, concerning the child from which a record or file could be generated may not be disclosed to the public and shall be:
(1) if maintained on paper or microfilm, kept separate from adult files and records;
(2) if maintained electronically in the same computer system as records or files relating to adults, be accessible under controls that are separate and distinct from controls to access electronic data concerning adults; and
(3) maintained on a local basis only and not sent to a central state or federal depository, except as provided by Subchapter B.
It does not appear that any of the exceptions in section 58.007 apply. Thus, we have marked certain documents which you must withhold from disclosure in their entirety pursuant to section 58.007 of the Family Code.
Section 552.101 of the Government Code also protects information coming within the common law right to privacy. Industrial Found. of the South v. Texas Indus. Accident Bd., 540 S.W.2d 668 (Tex. 1976), cert. denied, 430 U.S. 931 (1977). Common law privacy protects information if it is highly intimate or embarrassing, such that its release would be highly objectionable to a reasonable person, and it is of no legitimate concern to the public. Id. at 683-85.
In Industrial Foundation, the Texas Supreme Court considered intimate and embarrassing information that relates to sexual assault, pregnancy, mental or physical abuse in the workplace, illegitimate children, psychiatric treatment of mental disorders, attempted suicide, and injuries to sexual organs. 540 S.W.2d at 683. This office has also determined that common law privacy protects the following information: the kinds of prescription drugs a person is taking, Open Records Decision No. 455 (1987); the results of mandatory urine testing, id.; illnesses, operations, and physical handicaps of applicants, id.; the fact that a person attempted suicide, Open Records Decision No. 422 (1984); the names of parents of victims of sudden infant death syndrome, Attorney General Opinion JM-81; and information regarding drug overdoses, acute alcohol intoxication, obstetrical/gynecological illnesses, convulsions/seizures, or emotional/mental distress. Open Records Decision No. 343 (1982).
Upon review of the information at issue, we have marked information that must be withheld from disclosure under section 552.101 in conjunction with the common law right to privacy. You must release the remaining information contained in the marked incident report to the requestor.
As for the remaining submitted information, we now address your assertion that the information is excepted from disclosure pursuant to section 552.108 of the Government Code. Section 552.108 states that information held by a law enforcement agency or prosecutor that deals with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime is excepted from required public disclosure "if release of the information would interfere with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime." Gov't Code § 552.108(a)(1). You inform us that the information you have submitted as "Attachment C" pertains to pending investigations. Having carefully reviewed the remaining information, we believe that the information consists wholly of "basic information about an arrested person, an arrest, or a crime," which is not excepted from required public disclosure. Gov't Code § 552.108(c). The department must release all of the remaining information to the requestor.
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.
Carla Gay Dickson
Ref: ID# 137380
Encl. Marked documents
cc: Ms. Nancy Duesing
1. See Gov't Code § 552.108(c); see generally Houston Chronicle Publ'g Co. v. City of Houston, 531 S.W.2d 177 (Tex. Civ. App.--Houston [14th Dist.] 1975), writ ref'd n.r.e. per curiam, 536 S.W.2d 559 (Tex. 1976). You have provided this office with marked documents which you have already released to the requestor in accordance with Houston Chronicle. See also Open Records Decision No. 127 (1976). However, it appears that you have not included in your release to the requestor a detailed description of the offenses. Id. You must release all basic information to the requestor.
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