Court of Appeals of Texas, Third District, Austin
THE 201ST DISTRICT COURT OF TRAVIS COUNTY NO.
D-1-GN-17-006945, THE HONORABLE ERIC SHEPPERD, JUDGE
Justices Goodwin, Baker, and Kelly
J. BAKER, JUSTICE
Brown, III, pro se, appeals the trial court's dismissal
of his petition for a writ of mandamus seeking to compel the
City of Austin to produce two police reports pursuant to
Brown's request under the Texas Public Information Act
(PIA). The trial court dismissed Brown's suit on the
City's motion to dismiss filed under chapter 14 of the
Civil Practice and Remedies Code. See Tex. Civ.
Prac. & Rem. Code § 14.003(a)(2) (permitting courts
to dismiss inmate claims that are frivolous). We affirm the
trial court's dismissal order.
AND STANDARD OF REVIEW
the City refused to produce two police reports to Brown in
response to his PIA request, he filed a suit for writ of
mandamus in the trial court seeking to compel the City to
produce the reports. See Tex. Gov't Code §
552.321 (authorizing suits for writ of mandamus to compel
governmental body to make available information that is
public). Brown was an inmate at the Texas Department of
Criminal Justice when he filed his petition and remains
incarcerated. The City answered the lawsuit and then filed a
chapter 14 motion to dismiss. See Tex. Civ. Prac.
& Rem. Code § 14.003.
motion, the City contended that Brown's suit has no
arguable basis in law because he is and was at all relevant
times an inmate, and a governmental body's compliance
with an inmate's PIA request is purely discretionary.
See Tex. Gov't Code § 552.028 (pertaining
to PIA requests from inmates). The City also contended that
Brown could not meet the requirements of entitlement to
mandamus relief. See, e.g., Republican Party of
Tex. v. Dietz, 940 S.W.2d 86, 88 (Tex. 1997) (noting
that movant seeking mandamus relief must establish that
public official or body failed to perform ministerial duty or
committed clear abuse of discretion and that there is no
adequate remedy at law).
review the trial court's order dismissing Brown's
petition for an abuse of discretion. See Hamilton v.
Pechacek, 319 S.W.3d 801, 809 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth
2010, no pet.). A trial court abuses its discretion if it
acts in an arbitrary or unreasonable manner without reference
to any guiding rules and principles. Crawford v. XTO
Energy, Inc., 509 S.W.3d 906, 911 (Tex. 2017).
affords governmental bodies discretion in determining whether
to comply with information requests of inmates. Tex.
Gov't Code § 552.028(a) ("A governmental body
is not required to accept or comply with a request for
information from . . . an individual who is imprisoned or
confined in a correctional facility[.]"), (b)
("This section does not prohibit a governmental body
from disclosing to an [inmate] information held by the
governmental body pertaining to that individual.");
see Harrison v. Vance, 34 S.W.3d 660, 662-63 (Tex.
App- Dallas 2000, no pet.) ("We join our sister courts
in holding disclosure of information is discretionary when
that information is requested by an individual imprisoned or
confined in a correctional facility, regardless of whether
such information pertains to the individual requesting
it."); Hickman v. Moya, 976 S.W.2d 360, 361
(Tex. App-Waco 1998, pet. denied) (holding that governmental
body is not required to furnish requested information to
inmate even if information pertains to inmate and dismissing
inmate's lawsuit); Moore v. Henry, 960 S.W.2d
82, 84 (Tex. App-Houston [1st Dist] 1996, no writ) (same).
Because a governmental body's disclosure of information
requested by an inmate is discretionary-rather than a
ministerial act-mandamus will not issue to compel the act,
and Brown has no arguable basis in law to support his claim.
See Harrison, 34 S.W.3d at 663; Moore, 960
S.W.2d at 84.
appearing to concede this point on appeal, Brown contends
that the trial court abused its discretion in dismissing his
case because the City must nonetheless provide him the police
reports under section 261.201 of the Family Code,
which in relevant part provides:
(a) Except as provided by Section 261.203, the following
information is confidential, is not subject to public release
under [the PIA], and may be disclosed only for purposes
consistent with this code and applicable federal or state law
or under rules adopted by an investigating agency:
(1) a report of alleged or suspected abuse or neglect made
under this chapter and the identity of the person making the
(2) except as otherwise provided in this section, the files,
reports, records, communications, audiotapes, videotapes, and
working papers used or developed in an investigation under
this chapter or in ...