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February 2, 1999

Mr. Mark A. Flowers
Assistant City Attorney
City of Midland
406 East Illinois
Midland, Texas 79702-1152

OR99-0302

Dear Mr. Flowers:

You have asked whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under the Open Records Act (the "act"), chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 122015.

The City of Midland (the "city") received a request for "an offense report with case # 9808100012." In response to the request, you submit to this office for review the information at issue. You assert that the requested information is excepted from disclosure under section 552.108 of the Government Code. We have considered the exception you claim and reviewed the submitted information.

Section 552.108(a)(2) excepts from disclosure information concerning an investigation that concluded in a result other than conviction or deferred adjudication. Based on the information you provided, we understand you to assert that the requested information pertains to a case that concluded in a result other than conviction or deferred adjudication. Therefore, we agree that section 552.108(a)(2) is applicable to the submitted records.

As you are aware, you must provide the requestor with the basic front page offense report information in the submitted documents, including a detailed

description of the offense. Section 552.108(c) provides that section 552.108 does not except from disclosure "basic information about an arrested person, an arrest, or a crime." Front page offense report information is the basic information required to be disclosed. 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); Open Records Decision No. 127 (1976). Therefore, we conclude that, except for basic front page information, the requested highlighted information may be withheld under section 552.108(a)(2) of the Government Code.

Finally, we note that some of the information otherwise subject to release as basic front page information is subject to common-law privacy. Section 552.101 protects "information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision," including 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.

Information pertaining to an incident of sexual assault raises an issue of common-law privacy. Open Records Decision No. 339 (1982). In Open Records Decision No. 339 (1982), this office concluded that "a detailed description of an incident of aggravated sexual abuse raises an issue of common law privacy," and therefore any information tending to identify the assault victim must be withheld pursuant to common-law privacy. See also Open Records Decision No. 393 (1983). In this instance, since the requestor is the victim in the investigation, he has a special right of access, under section 552.023, to the front page information.(1) However, should there be a subsequent request for this information by another requestor, we advise the city to exercise caution and seek a ruling from this office concerning the records. See Gov't Code 552.352 (distribution of confidential information is criminal offense).

We are resolving this matter with this informal letter ruling rather than with a published open records decision. This ruling is limited to the particular records at issue under the facts presented to us in this request and may not be relied upon as a previous determination regarding any other records. If you have questions about this ruling, please contact our office.

Yours very truly,

Sam Haddad
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

SH/nc

Ref.:ID# 122015

Enclosures: Submitted documents


 

Footnotes

1. Section 552.023 gives a person or a person's authorized representative a special right of access, beyond the right of the general public, to information held by a governmental body that relates to the person and that is protected from disclosure by laws intended to protect that person's privacy interest.
 

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