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August 25, 2000

Ms. Rebecca Brewer
Abernathy Roeder Boyd
& Joplin, P.C.
P.O. Box 1210
McKinney, Texas 75070-1210

OR2000-3269

Dear Ms. Brewer:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 139688.

The Princeton Independent School District (the "district"), which you represent, received several requests for information relating to "possible loss or theft of Princeton Independent School District Property Taxes . . . ." You claim that the requested information is excepted from public disclosure under section 552.108 of the Government Code. We have considered the exception you claim and have reviewed the submitted representative sample.(1)

Section 552.108(a)(1) of the Government Code provides:

(a) [i]nformation held by a law enforcement agency or prosecutor that deals with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime is excepted from [public disclosure] if: (1) release of the information would interfere with the detection, investigation or prosecution of crime[.]

Based upon your arguments in your brief to this office, it is our understanding that you are asserting the applicability of section 552.108(a)(1) in regard to the law enforcement interests of the Princeton Police Department and of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in investigating possible criminal conduct. The affidavit you have provided for our consideration indicates that the requested information relates to a pending local and federal criminal investigation. 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); see also Open Records Decision Nos. 586 (1991) (the predecessor statute to section 552.108(a) protected information held by a governmental body that was the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation by state and federal authorities), 340 (1982) (the predecessor statute to section 552.108 protected from disclosure information held by city while federal investigation was ongoing). Therefore, the district may withhold the requested information under section 552.108(a)(1).

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,

Carla Gay Dickson
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

CGD/ljp

Ref: ID# 139688

Encl. Submitted documents

cc: Ms. Michaelle Ray
Publisher, Princeton This Week
P.O. Box 607
Princeton, Texas 75407
(w/o enclosures)


 

Footnotes

1. In reaching our conclusion here, we assume that the "representative sample" of records submitted to this office is truly representative of the requested records as a whole. See Open Records Decision Nos. 499 (1988); 497 (1988). This open records letter does not reach, and therefore does not authorize the withholding of, any other requested records to the extent that those records contain substantially different types of information than that submitted to this office.


 

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