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September 21, 1999

Mr. C. Scott Brumley
Assistant County Attorney
Civil Division
Potter County
500 South Fillmore, Room 303
Amarillo, Texas 79101

OR99-2654

Dear Mr. Brumley:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under the Texas Public Information Act, chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 128053.

The Potter County Sheriff (the "sheriff"), on whose behalf you seek this ruling, received a written request on July 9, 1999, for the following categories of information:

A certified Copy of the Potter County Sheriff's bond along with the bonding company's address, including the name and address of proper Bonding Company official with which to file a claim against such bond.

You seek to withhold the requested information pursuant to section 552.103 of the Government Code, the "litigation" exception, because the sheriff has been made a party to a mandamus action involving a demand for levy of a writ of execution. We note, however, that among the documents you submitted to this office is a June 1, 1999 letter from Mr. Samuel Brown Silverman requesting the same information described above. This letter to the sheriff constitutes a "written request for information" under the Public Information Act. See Gov't Code 552.301(a). Our records do not reflect that either you or the sheriff requested a decision from this office regarding the information at issue until July 19, 1999. We conclude, therefore, that you failed to request a decision within the ten business days required by section 552.301(a) of the Government Code.

Section 552.301(a) requires a governmental body to release requested information or to request a decision from the attorney general within ten business days of receiving a request for information the governmental body wishes to withhold. When a governmental body fails to request a decision within ten business days of receiving a request for information, the information at issue is presumed public. Gov't Code 552.302; Hancock v. State Bd. of Ins., 797 S.W.2d 379 (Tex. App.--Austin 1990, no writ); City of Houston v. Houston Chronicle Publishing Co., 673 S.W.2d 316, 323 (Tex. App.--Houston [1st Dist.] 1984, no writ); Open Records Decision No. 319 (1982). The governmental body must show a compelling interest to withhold the information to overcome this presumption. See Hancock, 797 S.W.2d at 381.

You have not shown compelling reasons why the information at issue should not be released. In the absence of a demonstration that the information is confidential by law or that other compelling reasons exist as to why the information should not be made public, you must release the information. See also Gov't Code 552.352 (distribution of confidential information is criminal offense).

We are resolving this matter with an 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 should not be relied upon as a previous determination regarding any other records. If you have questions about this ruling, please contact our office.

Sincerely,

William M. Walker
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

WMW/RWP/nc

Ref.: ID# 128053

Encl. Submitted documents

cc: Mr. Gene DeVoll
3809 East Verde Woods
Grand Prairie, Texas 75052
(w/o enclosures)


 

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