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May 5, 2000

Ms. Lamis A. Safa
Assistant City Attorney
City of Houston
P.O. Box 1562
Houston, Texas 77251-1562

OR2000-1745

Dear Ms. Safa:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 134866.

The Houston Police Department (the "department") received a request for all offense reports since September 1, 1997 concerning lost or stolen guns at a specified gun store. You claim that the requested information is excepted from disclosure under sections 552.101, 552.108, and 552.130 of the Government Code. We have considered the exceptions you claim and reviewed the submitted information.

You assert that section 552.108(a)(1) excepts from disclosure offense reports in Exhibits 2 and 3. Section 552.108(a)(1) excepts from disclosure information held by a law enforcement agency or prosecutor that deals with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime if release of the information would interfere with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime. You state that the requested information in Exhibit 2 relates to pending investigations. Further, you assert that the offense report in Exhibit 3 relates to the pending prosecution of one of the suspects.(1) Accordingly, we find that release of the requested information would interfere with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime. See Houston Chronicle Publ'g 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) (court delineates law enforcement interests that are present in active cases). Therefore, we conclude that the department may withhold the information in Exhibits 2 and 3 under section 552.108(a)(1)

You also assert that section 552.108 excepts from disclosure offense reports in Exhibit 4. Section 552.108(a)(2) excepts from disclosure information concerning an investigation that concluded in a result other than conviction or deferred adjudication. You assert that the cases are inactive due to a lack of evidence. Based on our review of the offense reports in Exhibit 4 and your arguments, we agree that the information pertains to cases that concluded in results other than conviction or deferred adjudication and section 552.108(a)(2) is applicable. Thus, you may withhold the information in Exhibit 4. You state that the department will provide the requestor basic information as required by section 552.108(c) and Houston Chronicle. 531 S.W.2d at 177. 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.(2)

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,

Jennifer Bialek
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

JHB/ch

Ref: ID# 134866

Encl. Submitted documents

cc: Mr. Paul M. Barrett
The Wall Street Journal
200 Liberty Street
New York, New York 10281
(w/o enclosures)


 

Footnotes

1. You state that the offense report relates to two suspects and one of the suspects has already been convicted of theft.

2. Because the information is excepted from disclosure under section 552.108, we need not address the applicability of sections 552.101 and 552.130.
 

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