Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Brown v. City of Austin

Court of Appeals of Texas, Third District, Austin

August 29, 2019

Robert Brown III, Appellant
v.
City of Austin, Appellee

          FROM THE 201ST DISTRICT COURT OF TRAVIS COUNTY NO. D-1-GN-17-006945, THE HONORABLE ERIC SHEPPERD, JUDGE PRESIDING

          Before Justices Goodwin, Baker, and Kelly

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          THOMAS J. BAKER, JUSTICE

         Robert 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.

         BACKGROUND AND STANDARD OF REVIEW

         After the City refused to produce two police reports[1] 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.

         In its 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).

         We 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).

         DISCUSSION

         The PIA 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.

         While 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, [2] 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 report; and
(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 ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.