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Office of the ATTORNEY GENERAL
GREG ABBOTT
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December 4, 2002

Ms. Chris G. Elizalde
Walsh, Anderson, Brown, Schulze & Aldridge
P.O. Box 2156
Austin, Texas 78768

OR2002-6881

Dear Ms. Elizalde:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 173094.

The Austin Independent School District (the "district"), which you represent, received a request for certain personnel file information and information on cases filed by teachers in the district against the district administration, or any individual principals, in the past five years. You inform us that the district has released most of the responsive information, but claim that a portion of the requested information is excepted from disclosure under section 552.107 of the Government Code. We have considered the exception you claim and reviewed the submitted information.

Section 552.107(1) of the Government Code protects information coming within the attorney-client privilege. In instances where an attorney represents a governmental entity, the attorney-client privilege protects only an attorney's legal advice and the client's confidences made to the attorney. See Open Records Decision No. 574 (1990). Accordingly, these two classes of information are the only information contained in the records at issue that may be withheld pursuant to the attorney-client privilege.

Upon review of the information you have submitted as Exhibit 2, we find that a portion of this information constitutes protected attorney-client communications that are excepted under section 552.107. We have marked the information that may be withheld. We find that the remaining information contains no client confidences or attorney advice, and therefore, as you make no other arguments against disclosure of this information, it must be released to the requestor.

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).

Please remember that under the Act the release of information triggers certain procedures for costs and charges to the requestor. If records are released in compliance with this ruling, be sure that all charges for the information are at or below the legal amounts. Questions or complaints about over-charging must be directed to Hadassah Schloss at the Texas Building and Procurement Commission at 512/475-2497.

If the governmental body, the requestor, or any other person has questions or comments about this ruling, they may contact our office. We note that a third party may challenge this ruling by filing suit seeking to withhold information from a requestor. Gov't Code 552.325. 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,

Michael A. Pearle
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division
MAP/jh
Ref: ID# 173094
Enc. Submitted documents

c: Mr. Daniel Ortiz
Ortiz & Associates
715 West Abram
Arlington, Texas 76013
(w/o enclosures)


 

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