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Office of the ATTORNEY GENERAL
GREG ABBOTT
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December 19, 2002

Ms. Denise G. Obinegbo
Open Records Specialist
Richardson Police Department
P.O. Box 831078
Richardson, Texas 75083-1078

OR2002-7311

Dear Ms. Obinegbo:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 173998.

The Richardson Police Department (the "department") received a request for incident reports regarding "disturbances, etc." at a specified address involving a named individual during 2001 and 2002. You indicate that you have released "all call cards generated for the location" and "front sheet information" from incident report number 02-077097 to the requestor. You claim that the remainder of the information is excepted from disclosure under sections 552.101 and 552.108 of the Government Code. We have considered the exceptions you claim and reviewed the submitted information.

First, you contend that incident report number 02-077097 is excepted from disclosure under section 552.108 of the Government Code. Section 552.108(a)(2) of the Government Code excepts from disclosure information concerning an investigation that concluded in a result other than conviction or deferred adjudication. A governmental body claiming section 552.108(a)(2) must demonstrate that the requested information relates to a criminal investigation that has concluded in a final result other than a conviction or deferred adjudication. Upon review of the information you have submitted, we find that you have not adequately demonstrated that the investigation at issue in this case has concluded in a final result other than a conviction or deferred adjudication. Thus, we determine that incident report number 02-077097 may not be withheld under section 552.108 of the Government Code.

You also contend that incident report number 02-077097 is excepted from disclosure under section 552.101 of the Government Code. Section 552.101 excepts from disclosure "information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision." Section 552.101 encompasses the doctrine of common-law privacy. For information to be protected from public disclosure by the common-law right of privacy under section 552.101, the information must meet the criteria set out in Industrial Foundation v. Texas Industrial Accident Board, 540 S.W.2d 668 (Tex. 1976), cert. denied, 430 U.S. 931 (1977).

In Industrial Foundation, the Texas Supreme Court stated that information is excepted from disclosure if (1) the information contains highly intimate or embarrassing facts the release of which would be highly objectionable to a reasonable person and (2) the information is not of legitimate concern to the public. 540 S.W.2d at 685. The type of information considered intimate and embarrassing by the Texas Supreme Court in Industrial Foundation included information relating to sexual assault, pregnancy, mental or physical abuse in the workplace, illegitimate children, psychiatric treatment of mental disorders, attempted suicide, and injuries to sexual organs. Id. at 683. Upon review, we determine that portions of incident report number 02-077097 are protected by privacy. We have marked information in incident report number 02-077097 that the department must withhold pursuant to section 552.101 and common-law privacy.

Section 552.101 of the Government Code also encompasses information that is made confidential under other statutes. Criminal history record information ("CHRI") obtained from the National Crime Information Center ("NCIC") or the Texas Crime Information Center ("TCIC") is confidential under section 552.101 in conjunction with federal law and subchapter F of chapter 411 of the Government Code. Federal law governs the dissemination of CHRI obtained from the NCIC network. Federal regulations prohibit the release to the general public of CHRI that is maintained in state and local CHRI systems. See 28 C.F.R. 20.21(c)(1) ("Use of criminal history record information disseminated to noncriminal justice agencies shall be limited to the purpose for which it was given.") and (c)(2) ("No agency or individual shall confirm the existence or nonexistence of criminal history record information to any person or agency that would not be eligible to receive the information itself."); see also Open Records Decision No. 565 at 10-12 (1990). The federal regulations allow each state to follow its own individual law with respect to CHRI that it generates. See ORD 565 at 10-12. Sections 411.083(b)(1) and 411.089(a) of the Government Code authorize a criminal justice agency to obtain CHRI; however, a criminal justice agency may not release CHRI except to another criminal justice agency for a criminal justice purpose. See Gov't Code 411.089(b). Any CHRI generated by the federal government or another state may be disclosed only in accordance with the federal regulations. Any CHRI obtained from the Texas Department of Public Safety (the "DPS") or another criminal justice agency must be withheld as provided by subchapter F of chapter 411 of the Government Code. Therefore, any criminal history record information obtained from the NCIC or TCIC networks must be withheld from disclosure under section 552.101 of the Government Code.

In summary, the department must withhold the information we have marked pursuant to section 552.101 of the Government Code and common-law privacy. CHRI obtained from the NCIC or TCIC networks must be withheld under section 552.101 in conjunction with chapter 411 of the Government Code. The remainder of the submitted information 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,

David R. Saldivar
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division
DRS/seg
Ref: ID# 173998
Enc: Submitted documents

c: Mr. V. Wayne Pope
8111 Preston Road, #750
Dallas, Texas 75225
(w/o enclosures)


 

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