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July 17, 2000

Ms. Regina T. Grimes
Office Of The General Counsel
Texas Department Of Criminal Justice
P.O. Box 13401
Austin, Texas 78711

OR2000-2692

Dear Ms. Grimes:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 137132.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Parole Division (the "division") received a written request for the names of all individuals who protested the parole of the requestor's son. Although you state that you have submitted a "representative sample" of responsive protest letters received by the division, you further inform us that "[n]o other persons other than the ones represented in the attached representative sample letters submitted protest letters or 'recommendations for or against parole.'" You contend that the requested information is excepted from disclosure under section 552.101 of the Government Code in conjunction with section 508.313 of the Government Code.

Section 552.101 of the Government Code excepts from public disclosure "information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision." (Emphasis added.) Section 508.313(1) of the Government Code makes confidential "[a]ll information obtained or maintained" by the department that relates to "an inmate of the institutional division subject to release on parole, release to mandatory supervision, or executive clemency." After reviewing your arguments and the submitted documents, we conclude that the requested information is made confidential by section 508.313(1) of the Government Code and that none of the release provisions of that statute apply in this instance. Accordingly, the division must withhold the requested information pursuant to section 552.101 of the Government Code.

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,

Noelle C. Letteri
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

NCL/RWP/ljp

Ref: ID# 137132

Encl. Submitted documents

cc: Ms. Carolyn Halliburton
7405 West Dixon Road
Somerset, Texas 78069-3506
(w/o enclosures)


 

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