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March 27, 2000

Mr. M. Shannon Kackley
Assistant City Attorney
City of Garland
P.O. Box 469002
Garland, Texas 75046-2000

OR2000-1175

Dear Mr. Kackley:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under the Public Information Act, chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 133642.

The City of Garland (the "city") received a request for a copy of the full arrest and offense report of an act of driving while intoxicated committed by a named individual. You state that you have released a redacted(1) copy of the offense report to the requestor.(2) You claim that the remaining 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.

In your brief, you assert that section 552.108 exempts all law enforcement records that deal with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime and all internal law enforcement records or notations used in matters relating to law enforcement or prosecution. This is an incorrect statement of the law. Section 552.108 of the Government Code states:

(a) Information held by a law enforcement agency or prosecutor that deals with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021 if:

(1) release of the information would interfere with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime;

(2) it is information that deals with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime only in relation to an investigation that did not result in conviction or deferred adjudication; or

(3) it is information that:

(A) is prepared by an attorney representing the state in anticipation of or in the course of preparing for criminal litigation; or

(B) reflects the mental impressions or legal reasoning of an attorney representing the state.

(b) An internal record or notation of a law enforcement agency or prosecutor that is maintained for internal use in matters relating to law enforcement or prosecution is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021 if:

(1) release of the internal record or notation would interfere with law enforcement or prosecution;

(2) the internal record or notation relates to law enforcement only in relation to an investigation that did not result in conviction or deferred adjudication; or

(3) the internal record or notation:

(A) is prepared by an attorney representing the state in anticipation of or in the course of preparing for criminal litigation; or

(B) reflects the mental impressions or legal reasoning of an attorney representing the state.

(c) This section does not except from the requirements of Section 552.021 information that is basic information about an arrested person, an arrest, or a crime.

(emphasis added). Generally, a governmental body claiming an exception under section 552.108 must reasonably explain, if the information does not supply the explanation on its face, how and why section 552.108 is applicable. See Gov't Code 552.108, .301(b)(1); see also Ex parte Pruitt, 551 S.W.2d 706 (Tex. 1977). You do not explain which subsection of section 552.108 applies, or how and why section 552.108 is applicable. Therefore, because you have not adequately shown under section 552.108 how the release of the information would interfere with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime, the requested information is public and must be released. We caution that the distribution of confidential information constitutes a criminal offense. Gov't Code 552.352.

This letter ruling is limited to the particular records at issue in this request and limited to the facts as presented to us; therefore, this ruling must not be relied upon as a previous determination regarding any other records or any other circumstances.

This ruling triggers important deadlines regarding the rights and responsibilities of the governmental body and of the requestor. For example, governmental bodies are prohibited from asking the attorney general to reconsider this ruling. Gov't Code 552.301(f). If the governmental body wants to challenge this ruling, the governmental body must appeal by filing suit in Travis County within 30 calendar days. Id. 552.324(b). In order to get the full benefit of such an appeal, the governmental body must file suit within 10 calendar days. Id. 552.353(b)(3), (c). If the governmental body does not appeal this ruling and the governmental body does not comply with it, then both the requestor and the attorney general have the right to file suit against the governmental body to enforce this ruling. Id. 552.321(a).

If this ruling requires the governmental body to release all or part of the requested information, the governmental body is responsible for taking the next step. Based on the statute, the attorney general expects that, within 10 calendar days of this ruling, the governmental body will do one of the following three things: 1) release the public records; 2) notify the requestor of the exact day, time, and place that copies of the records will be provided or that the records can be inspected; or 3) notify the requestor of the governmental body's intent to challenge this letter ruling in court. If the governmental body fails to do one of these three things within 10 calendar days of this ruling, then the requestor should report that failure to the attorney general's Open Government Hotline, toll free, at 877/673-6839. The requestor may also file a complaint with the district or county attorney. Id. 552.3215(e).

If this ruling requires or permits the governmental body to withhold all or some of the requested information, the requestor can appeal that decision by suing the governmental body. Id. 552.321(a); Texas Department of Public Safety v. Gilbreath, 842 S.W.2d 408, 411 (Tex. App.-Austin 1992, no writ).

If the governmental body, the requestor, or any other person has questions or comments about this ruling, they may contact our office. Although there is no statutory deadline for contacting us, the attorney general prefers to receive any comments within 10 calendar days of the date of this ruling.

Sincerely,

Amanda Crawford
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

AEC/nc

Ref: ID# 133642

Encl. Submitted documents

cc: Mr. Mark Besozzi
3601 Jennifer
Rowlett, Texas 75088
(w/o enclosures)


 

Footnotes

1. You state, in footnote 4 of your January 25, 2000 letter to this office, "Most of the redacted information is evidentiary in that it represents a listing of the stolen items and their value, the modus operandi of the crime, and witness statements and statements by the arrestees." Contrary to your assertion, the redacted information you submitted to this office does not contain any of the above information. We assume that you have submitted a complete copy of all information requested. This open records letter does not reach any other requested records to the extent that those records contain substantially different types of information than that submitted to this office.

2. Please note that section 552.130 of the Government Code excepts information that relates to a motor vehicle operator's or driver's license or permit issued by an agency of this state or a motor vehicle title or registration issued by an agency of this state. Therefore, you must withhold all Texas license plate numbers, driver's license numbers and VIN numbers.
 

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