Denial of incarcerated individual’s PIA request is discretionary, so mandamus improper says 3rd Court of Appeals

Stevie Lynn Davis v. Texas Department of Public Safety, 03-13-00199-CV (Tex. App. – Austin, August 12, 2014).

This is a Texas Public Information Act (“PIA”) case and a short one at that. Davis filed a mandamus action to compel DPS to turn over certain information relating to him under the PIA. However, Davis is an incarcerated inmate serving a 35 year sentence and he was seeking information relating to his offense. Pursuant to §552.028 of the PIA, an entity need not respond to PIA requests made by incarcerated individuals. He also sought to hold that provision of the PIA unconstitutional under the 6th Amendment right to self-representation. The trial court denied the request and Davis appealed.

The court first held §552.028 gives DPS discretion to withhold information even if it otherwise would need to be released under the PIA. Since it is discretionary not ministerial, mandamus is improper. Further, §552.028 has previously been held constitutional and an incarcerated individual has no protected rights to information under the PIA. As a result, Davis’ clams were dismissed.

If you would like to read this opinion click here. Panel: Justice Puryear, Justice Rose, and Justice Goodwin. Memorandum Opinion by Justice Goodwin.  Davis appeared pro se. The attorney listed for DPS is Ms. Shanna Elizabeth Molinare.