Editorial: Supreme Court denial threatens Texas public records access

The Texas Supreme Court has denied the appeal of a lower court decision permitting a delayed response to a public records request — potentially negating a law that requires a response to requests within 10 business days.

In refusing to consider the case of Hartman Newspapers against Fort Bend County, the high court opens the door to a new form of government denial of public records by allowing agencies to deny a records request until a requestor files a lawsuit.

“This is a real bitter blow,” said Joe Larsen, a public records lawyer who filed a brief on behalf of Hartman Newspapers. “The three branches of Texas government have taken away our public information. It’s time for a really aggressive response.”

The first step will be a motion for a rehearing, which Larsen said is unlikely to be granted.

Hartman Newspapers, owner of a chain of small papers based outside Houston, in 2015 requested the names of complainants in a bribery case involving Lamar Consolidated ISD. Read more…