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February 17, 1999

Lieutenant Terry Lichtie
Amarillo Police Department
200 E. 3rd
Amarillo, Texas 79101-1514

OR99-0478

Dear Lt. Lichtie:

You have asked whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under the Open Records Act, chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 123754.

Section 552.101 excepts from disclosure "information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision." Section 552.101 encompasses common-law privacy. Where an individual's criminal history information has been compiled by a governmental entity, the information takes on a character that implicates the individual's right to privacy. See United States Dep't of Justice v. Reporters Comm. for Freedom of the Press, 489 U.S. 749 (1989). In this instance, the requestor asks for all information concerning a certain person. In this case, we believe that the individual's right to privacy has been implicated. Thus, where the named individual is a possible suspect, we conclude that you must withhold this information under section 552.101 of the Government Code. See id. We have marked the information that must be withheld under common-law privacy.

You assert that the requested information is excepted from disclosure based on section 552.108 of the Government Code. 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.

However section 552.108 is inapplicable to basic information about an arrested person, an arrest, or a crime. Gov't Code 552.108(c). We believe such basic information refers to the information held to be public in Houston Chronicle Publishing 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). Thus, with the exception of the basic front page offense and arrest information, you may withhold the requested information from disclosure based on section 552.108(a)(2). We note that you have the discretion to release all or part of the remaining information that is not otherwise confidential by law. Gov't Code 552.007.

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,

Yen-Ha Le
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

YHL/ch

Ref.: ID# 123754

Enclosures: Marked documents

cc: Mr. Charly Hopkins, CP
Underwood, Wilson, Berry, Stein & Johnson, P.C.
P.O. Box 9158
Amarillo, Texas 79105-9158
(w/o enclosures)


 

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