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Texas DA's Closed Files Exempt From Disclosure Under Act

Harris County, Texas, District Attorney (DA) John Holmes appealed an appellate affirmation ordering the disclosure of "closed" investigative files. The order was reversed because internal records disclosure was not statutorily mandated.

Holmes possessed active and closed files of past and present investigations. After receiving requests for various closed files under the Open Records Act (Act), Holmes sought an opinion from Texas Attorney General Morales concerning their disclosure. Morales concluded that all or part of every file in question required disclosure. Holmes sought declaratory judgment claiming that a district attorney was not a "governmental body" for purposes of the Act. The trial court disagreed and ordered disclosure which was upheld on appeal for a lack of appellate controversy.

On petition for a writ of error, the Supreme Court of Texas held that the Act's provisions failed to distinguish between "open" and "closed" criminal files and did not require the DA to disclose internal records regarding investigation or prosecution. See: Holmes v. Morales, 924 S.W.2d 920, 39 Tex. Sup. J. 779 (Tex. 1996).

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Related legal case

Holmes v. Morales