The Campaign For DA

4.23.2015

Wise County Messenger Being Blocked By Montague DA



I mentioned a few days ago that all officers were cleared by a grand jury in the shooting death of Alan Alverson near the Montague/County line. You may remember Alverson as the guy who allegedly shot the police dog of the Wise County Sheriff's Office.

Now that the criminal case is over, the Messenger wants certain records from the DA's office.

This excerpt from a Messenger story: "Despite the grand jury finding no reason to move forward with criminal charges in the case, [District Attorney Paige] Williams has declined to release the full autopsy or report by the Texas Rangers investigating the case. She is seeking an attorney general’s opinion as to whether she must release that information, arguing that the information is not public because the case concluded in a final result other than a conviction or deferred adjudication, thereby making it excepted from disclosure under the Texas Public Information Act."

Records subject to the Information Act must be released with 10 days or it is a crime not to do so. But for some crazy reason, any public official has the right to ask for an Attorney General's Opinion on whether the records must be released and this automatically puts everything on hold. Oftentimes that request is made to simply stonewall.

I'm no TPIA expert, but whether those records are public in this situation has absolutely been decided by prior AG opinions. This situation happens all the time. This is not new ground.  Without researching it, I'm guessing that autopsy report has to be subject to disclosure now.  How about the Ranger's report? Honestly, I don't know. But why shouldn't it be? Everyone involved in this investigation works for you and is paid with your money. You even bought the paper it was written on and paid the person who typed it and copied it. There is no criminal case now. Name one legitimate reason why it shouldn't be turned over to the public.

And there's nothing to prevent the DA from voluntarily just turning them over. How do you think the media sometimes immediately gets ahold of 911 tapes or videos or toxicology reports. Some of that information could be legally withheld until the case was concluded, but the government just turns it over anyway.