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Hays County District Attorney’s Office Makes Changes to PIA Complaint Process
The Hays County District Attorney’s Office has modified how it will accept complaints submitted to them under section 552.3215 of the Texas Public Information Act (TPIA).
A complaint submitted under 552.3215 is one requesting injunction relief from a government body violating the TPIA. Previously, the Hays County District Attorney’s Office would accept complaints meeting the basic minimum information listed in statute:
To be valid, a complaint must:
(1) be in writing and signed by the complainant;
(2) state the name of the governmental body that allegedly committed the violation, as accurately as can be done by the complainant;
(3) state the time and place of the alleged commission of the violation, as definitely as can be done by the complainant; and
(4) in general terms, describe the violation.Sec. 552.3215. DECLARATORY JUDGMENT OR INJUNCTIVE RELIEF, part (e)
Now the Hays County District Attorney’s Office states the complaint must be notarized and be on their newly created form. After which time it can be mailed, presented in person, or emailed to email@example.com.
The TPIA also states in section (i) of 552.3215 that a complainant can file the complaint with the Texas Attorney General’s Office in certain situations. One of those situations is when the District or County Attorney determines not to bring an action under the injunction relief section of the TPIA. Another is when the District or County Attorney does not bring action after 90 days from filing of a complaint.
What the Hays County District Attorney’s Office has stated is they will not file a complaint unless it is notarized and on their form; at least this is what we have been informed. The interesting part is the statute already states what is considered a valid complaint. The statute does not require a special form or for it to be notarized.
The point of debate is whether the Hays County District Attorney’s Office can fail to file a complaint because it is not notarized or on their form. It appears filing the complaint is a ministerial act. They could, obviously, reject the complaint if it does not meet the minimum validity requirements.
The Hays County District Attorney’s Office previously confirmed the City of Kyle violated the TPIA, but did not want to take action on them. A new complaint was submitted to the Hays County District Attorney’s Office related to the City of Kyle and the Hays County District Attorney’s Office elected to improve their process related to requests for injunction relief.
Again, the Hays County District Attorney’s Office already received the complaint under the old standard. Then, while that complaint was pending with their office, changed their requirements to file such complaints. Typically, an office would accept what was presented and then create new standards. Then the office would inform the public of the new standard and it would be utilized from that point on, but not in this case.
A Couple of Our Other Reads
You may be interested in reading about a local Hays County attorney’s amended civil rights complaint on the Hays County Government.
Or you may find our publishing on the removal of a San Marcos Police Officer for untruthfulness, of interest.
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Categories: The Lone Star Review - State