Texas Public Information Act Litigation Exception

Public information is excepted from disclosure under the Open Records Act if it is information relating to litigation of a civil nature to which the state or a political subdivision is or may be a party. TEX. GOVT. CODE ANN. 552.103 (Vernon 1994). The Attorney General interprets this provision as excepting: (1) information relating to litigation; (2) that is either pending or reasonably anticipated. See University of Texas Law School v. Texas Legal Foundation, 958 S.W.2d 479, 481 (Tex. App.--Austin 1997, no writ). "The litigation exception prevents the use of the Open Records Act as a method of avoiding the rules of discovery." Tex. Att'y Gen. ORD-647 (1996). The litigation exception "enables a governmental body to protect its position in litigation by 'forcing parties seeking information relating to that litigation to obtain it through discovery.'" Id. (citing Tex. Att'y Gen. ORD-551 (1990)). The exception recognizes the importance of the discovery process by providing a temporary exception for requests for information that relate to pending or anticipated litigation so that disputes regarding the availability of the information in particular litigation may be properly resolved by a court. See id.