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Office of the ATTORNEY GENERAL
GREG ABBOTT
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December 12, 2002

Ms. Angela M. DeLuca
Assistant City Attorney
City of College Station
P.O. Box 9960
College Station, Texas 77842

OR2002-7096

Dear Ms. DeLuca:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 173527.

The College Station Police Department (the "department") received a request for fourteen categories of information related to a named police officer. You advise that you have released a portion of the requested information. You claim that the remaining requested information is excepted from disclosure under sections 552.103 and 552.108 of the Government Code. We have considered the exceptions you claim and have reviewed the submitted information.

Initially, we note that this requestor previously made virtually identical requests for information pertaining to this same officer, which resulted in Open Records Letter Nos. 2001-4197 (2001) and 2002-4362 (2002). However, the department has submitted information to this office as responsive to the current request that was not in existence at the time the department received the earlier requests. The Public Information Act does not require a governmental body to disclose information that did not exist at the time the request was received. Economic Opportunities Dev. Corp. v. Bustamante, 562 S.W.2d 266 (Tex. Civ. App.--San Antonio 1978, writ dism'd); Open Records Decision No. 452 at 3 (1986). Accordingly, we will address your arguments for withholding the submitted information.

Some of the submitted information is subject to section 552.022 of the Government Code. Section 552.022 provides in relevant part:

(a) Without limiting the amount or kind of information that is public information under this chapter, the following categories of information are public information and not excepted from required disclosure under this chapter unless they are expressly confidential under other law:

(1) a completed report, audit, evaluation, or investigation made of, for, or by a governmental body, except as provided by [s]ection 552.108;

. . . .

Gov't Code 552.022(a)(1). A portion of the submitted information consists of a completed investigation and completed evaluations. For this and the remainder of the submitted information, we will address your argument under section 552.108.

Section 552.108(a) excepts from disclosure "[i]nformation held by a law enforcement agency or prosecutor that deals with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime . . . if: (1) release of the information would interfere with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime." Generally, a governmental body claiming section 552.108 must reasonably explain, if the information does not supply the explanation on its face, how and why the release of the requested information would interfere with law enforcement. See Gov't Code 552.108(a)(1), (b)(1), .301(e)(1)(a); see also Ex parte Pruitt, 551 S.W.2d 706 (Tex. 1977).

You state that the submitted information relates to the pending prosecution of an individual arrested by the named officer for Driving While Intoxicated. You argue that the information is related to the prosecution because "it is used at trial to determine the credibility of this witness . . . , her competency to testify, and her qualification as an expert witness." You have also submitted a letter from an Assistant County Attorney for Brazos County, Texas stating that the requested information relates to the ongoing prosecution, and that release of the requested information would interfere with the pending prosecution. Based upon these representations, we conclude that the release of the submitted information would interfere with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime. See 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) (court delineates law enforcement interests that are present in active cases). Therefore, the department may withhold the submitted information under section 552.108(a)(1) of the Government Code. As we are able to make this determination, we need not address your argument under section 552.103.

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).

Please remember that under the Act the release of information triggers certain procedures for costs and charges to the requestor. If records are released in compliance with this ruling, be sure that all charges for the information are at or below the legal amounts. Questions or complaints about over-charging must be directed to Hadassah Schloss at the Texas Building and Procurement Commission at 512/475-2497.

If the governmental body, the requestor, or any other person has questions or comments about this ruling, they may contact our office. We note that a third party may challenge this ruling by filing suit seeking to withhold information from a requestor. Gov't Code 552.325. 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,

Kristen Bates
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division
KAB/seg
Ref: ID# 173527
Enc. Submitted documents

c: Mr. Jim James
The Law Office of Jim James
P.O. Box 1146
Bryan, Texas 77806
(w/o enclosures)


 

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