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February 26, 1999

Ms. Lillian Guillen Graham
Assistant City Attorney
City of Mesquite
Box 850137
Mesquite, Texas 75185-0137

OR99-0560

Dear Ms. Graham:

You ask 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# 123983.

Section 552.301(a) of the Government Code provides in part that:

A governmental body that receives a written request for information that it wishes to withhold from public disclosure and that it considers to be within one of the [act's] exceptions . . . must ask for a decision from the attorney general about whether the information is within that exception if there has not been a previous determination about whether the information falls within one of the exceptions. The governmental body must ask for the attorney general's decision and state the exceptions that apply within a reasonable time but not later than the 10th business day after the date of receiving the request.

In this case, this office did not receive the request for a decision within the 10 business day period mandated by section 552.301(a). Because the request for a decision was not timely received, the requested information is presumed to be public information. Gov't Code 552.302; see Hancock v. State Bd. of Ins., 797 S.W.2d 379 (Tex. App.--Austin 1990, no writ).

In order to overcome the presumption that the requested information is public information, a governmental body must provide compelling reasons why the information should not be disclosed. Hancock, 797 S.W.2d at 381; see Open Records Decision No. 630 (1994). A claim under the informer's privilege sections 552.103 and 552.108 may be waived by the governmental body since the privilege belongs to the government. See Open Records Decision No. 549 at 6 (1990). We conclude that the informer's privilege and sections 552.103 and 552.108 are not compelling exceptions in this instance and, therefore, may not be used to withhold any of the requested information from required public disclosure. Thus, except for information discussed below, we conclude that the requested information must be released to the requestor.

The records include information excepted from disclosure by section 552.130 of the Government Code. Section 552.130 excepts information that relates to a driver's license or a motor vehicle title or registration issued by an agency of this state. We have marked the types of information that you must withhold under section 552.130.

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.

Sincerely,

Yen-Ha Le
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

YHL/ch

Ref.: ID# 123983

Enclosures: Marked documents

cc: Mr. Mike Christopher
P.I.C. Investigations
P.O. Box 13087
Arlington, Texas 76094
(w/o enclosures)


 

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