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Kyle Police Department Improperly Withholds Public Case Report on Journalist
On June 25, 2021, a journalist was improperly subjected to the rigors of prosecution by the Kyle Police Department. The case unfolded in various Hays County court filings and was ultimately dismissed. The case was prosecuted by a Pro Tem (Travis County Attorney’s Office).
The initial charge was filed under 21-2259CR-1. It was filed after two Habeas Corpus petitions were filed. The first was filed under 20-2877 and the second filed under 21-0498-C.
We will leave out all the details, because it’s all filed in the court system and it is also a matter the mainstream news, or even the advocate news outlets should have picked up. They were even reached out too. They declined to publish on the injustice.
The Texas Attorney General’s Office Ordered the Case Report Released
Interestingly enough, on May 17, 2022, the Texas Attorney General’s Office ordered, through OR2022-14159, the release of the case report.
We did not receive the Attorney General’s order until October 26, 2022. With the decision, we did not receive the case report.
This seems to be common practice with the Kyle Police Department Open Records Unit. There is a history of withholding records they shouldn’t.
In any case, stated in the decision was the following:
Exhibit E consists of an incident report for a criminal case that we understand has now been dismissed. Thus, we find the relevant facts and circumstances have changed since the issuance of Open Records Letter No. 2021-18998 and the city may not rely upon our previous ruling as a previous determination for this information. See id. Therefore, we will address your arguments against disclosure of this information.
Exhibit E consists of a completed report that is subject to section 552.022 of the Government Code. Section 552.022(a)(1) provides for required public disclosure of “a completed report, audit, evaluation, or investigation made of, for, or by a governmental body” unless the information is excepted from disclosure under section 552.108 of the Government Code or expressly confidential under the Act or “other law.” Gov’t Code § 552.022(a)(1). Although you raise section 552.103 of the Government Code for the information at issue, this section is a discretionary exception to disclosure and does not make information confidential under the Act. See Dallas Area Rapid Transit v. Dallas Morning News, 4 S.W.3d 469, 475-76 (Tex. App.—Dallas 1999, no pet.) (governmental body may waive Gov’t Code § 552.103); Open Records Decision Nos. 665 at 2 n.5 (2000) (discretionary exceptions generally), 663 at 5 (1999) (waiver of discretionary exceptions). Therefore, the Exhibit E may not be withheld under section 552.103. However, because section 552.1175 of the Government Code makes information confidential under the Act, we will address the applicability of this section to Exhibit E.
Section 552.1175 of the Government Code protects the home address, home telephone number, emergency contact information, date of birth, social security number, and family member information of certain individuals, when that information is held by a governmental body in a non-employment capacity and the individual elects to keep the information confidential. Gov’t Code § 552.1175. For purposes of section 552.1175, “family member” means a spouse, minor child, or adult child who resides in the person’s home. Cf. id. § 552.117(c) (“family member” has meaning assigned by Fin. Code § 31.006(d)). Section 552.1175, applies, in part, to “current or honorably retired peace officers as defined by Article 2.12, Code of Criminal Procedure[.]” Id. § 552.1175(a)(1); see id. § 552.003(1-b) (defining “honorably retired” for purposes of the Act). Thus, the city must withhold the information we marked to the extent the individual whose information is at issue elected to restrict access to the information in accordance with section 552.1175(b) of the Government Code.
The city must withhold the information we marked to the extent the individual whose information is at issue elected to restrict access to the information in accordance with section 552.1175(b) of the Government Code. The remaining information must be released.Attorney General Letter Ruling OR2022-14159
Although, we have the complete case report, we requested the public report so we could present improper actions by the Kyle Police Department with the proof; which has stemmed for a long time. The period documented in the case report is from October 1, 2018, through April 22, 2020.
A follow up complaint has been made with the Texas Attorney General’s Office as it relates to violating their order.
A Couple of Our Other Reads
You may be interested in learning about the disciplinary actions taken by the San Marcos Police Department in 2021.
Or you may find the disciplinary action issued by the Kyle Police Department in 2021, of interest.￼
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