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September 1, 2000

Mr. Mark A. Flowers
Assistant City Attorney
City of Midland
P.O. Box 1152
Midland, Texas 79702-1152

OR2000-3405

Dear Mr. Flowers:

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# 138626.

The City of Midland (the "city") received a request for three specified police reports. You claim that the requested information is excepted from disclosure under section 552.101 of the Government Code. We have considered the exception you claim and have reviewed the information you submitted.

Section 552.101 of the Government Code excepts from disclosure "information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory or by judicial decision." Thus, section 552.101 encompasses information that is made confidential by statute. You claim that the requested information is confidential under section 552.101 in conjunction with section 58.007 of the Family Code. Section 58.007 provides in relevant part:

(c) Except as provided by Subsection (d), law enforcement records and files concerning a child and information stored, by electronic means or otherwise, concerning the child from which a record or file could be generated may not be disclosed to the public and shall be:

(1) if maintained on paper or microfilm, kept separate from adult files and records;

(2) if maintained electronically in the same computer system as records or files relating to adults, be accessible under controls that are separate and distinct from controls to access electronic data concerning adults; and

(3) maintained on a local basis only and not sent to a central state or federal depository, except as provided by Subchapter B.

Fam. Code 58.007(c). Confidentiality under section 58.007(c) extends only to records of juvenile conduct that occurred on or after September 1, 1997. See Act of June 2, 1997, 75th Leg., R.S., ch. 1086, 20, 55(a), 1999 Tex. Gen. Laws 4179, 4187, 4199; Open Records Decision No. 644 (1996).

You correctly inform us that the requested information contains "numerous references concerning children." However, you direct our attention to references to juvenile crime victims. Section 58.007 of the Family Code governs records relating to juvenile offenders. Nevertheless, we find that the information in question represents law enforcement records and files relating to juvenile conduct that occurred on or after September 1, 1997. As none of the exceptions under section 58.007 appears to be applicable, we therefore conclude that the requested information is confidential under section 552.101 of the Government Code in conjunction with section 58.007 of the Family Code. Accordingly, the city must withhold the requested information from public disclosure.

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,

James W. Morris, III
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

JWM/ljp

Ref: ID# 138626

Encl. Submitted documents

cc: Ms. Shannon Goble
Fivecoat, Goble & Hurd, P.C.
Attorneys and Counselors at Law
P.O. Box 3507
Midland, Texas 79702-3507
(w/o enclosures)


 

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