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August 9, 2000

Mr. Noble D. Walker, Jr.
Assistant City Attorney
City of Greenville
Post Office Box 1353
Greenville, Texas 75403-1353

OR2000-3021

Dear Mr. Walker:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 139468.

The City of Greenville (the "city") received a request for the requestor's personnel records and other information related to a particular job posting. You indicate that you have released the personnel file information to the requestor. You claim that remaining information is excepted from disclosure under section 552.101 of the Government Code. We have considered the exception you claim and have reviewed the submitted information.

You assert that certain information is excepted from disclosure under section 552.101 of the Government Code. Section 552.101 encompasses the doctrine of common law privacy. For information to be protected from public disclosure under the common law right of privacy, the information must meet the criteria set out in Industrial Foundation v. Texas Industrial Accident Bd., 540 S.W.2d 668 (Tex. 1976), cert. denied, 430 U.S. 931 (1977). The court stated that information . . . is excepted from mandatory disclosure under Section 3(a)(1) as information deemed confidential by law if (1) the information contains highly intimate or embarrassing facts the publication of which would be highly objectionable to a reasonable person, and (2) the information is not of legitimate concern to the public.

540 S.W.2d at 685; Open Records Decision No. 142 at 4 (1976) (construing statutory predecessor to Gov't Code 552.101). Having carefully reviewed your arguments and the submitted information, we have marked a limited portion of the requested information which must be withheld from disclosure under section 552.101 in conjunction with the common law right to privacy. You must promptly release to the requestor the remaining requested information.

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,

Carla Gay Dickson
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

CGD/ljp

Ref: ID# 139468

Encl. Submitted documents

cc: Ms. Mary Botts
503 Highland Oaks Drive
Greenville, Texas 75402-8036
(w/o enclosures)


 

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