|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
September 30, 1999
Mr. James J. Savage
Dear Mr. Savage:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 127746.
Harris County (the "county") received a request for case number 9906091976. You have submitted the responsive information to this office for review. You claim that the requested information is excepted from disclosure under section 552.108 of the Government Code, however as the subject information is made confidential by statue, we address your request under Government Code section 552.101.(1)
Information is excepted from disclosure by section 552.101 "if it is information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision." Section 261.201 of the Family Code governs release of information related to reports of child abuse or neglect. In pertinent part it reads:
(a) The following information is confidential, is not subject to public release under Chapter 552, Government Code, and may be disclosed only for purposes consistent with this code and applicable federal or state law or under rules adopted by an investigating agency:
(1) a report of alleged or suspected abuse or neglect made under this chapter and the identity of the person making the report; and
(2) except as otherwise provided in this section, the files, reports, records, communications, audiotapes, videotapes, and working papers used or developed in an investigation under this chapter or in providing services as a result of an investigation.
The responsive information consists of reports, records, and working papers used or developed in an investigation made under chapter 261 of the Family Code and is therefore confidential by statute. As you have not cited any specific rule that the county has adopted with regard to the release of this type of information, these records are presumed confidential in their entirety. See Open Records Decision No. 440 at 2 (1986). Accordingly, the county must not release this requested information.
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.
Michael Jay Burns
Ref: ID# 127746
Encl. Submitted documents
cc: Ms. Melba Burton
1. The Public Information Act prohibits the release of confidential information. Gov't Code §552.352 . Because release of confidential information constitutes a misdemeanor, the attorney general will raise section 552.101 on behalf of a governmental body, although the attorney general will ordinarily not rise an exception that a governmental body has failed to claim. Open Records Decision 455 at 3 (1987).
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