Tex. Local Gov't Code Section 161.173
Confidentiality; Offense


(a)

Except as provided by Subsection (b), (c), or (m), proceedings at a preliminary review hearing performed by the standing preliminary review committee, a sworn complaint, and documents and any additional evidence relating to the processing, preliminary review, preliminary review hearing, or resolution of a sworn complaint are confidential and may not be disclosed unless entered into the record of a formal hearing or a judicial proceeding, except that a document or statement that was previously public information remains public information.

(b)

An order issued by the standing preliminary review committee after the completion of a preliminary review or hearing determining that a violation other than a technical or de minimis violation has occurred is not confidential.

(c)

Commission staff may, for the purpose of investigating a sworn complaint, disclose to the complainant, the respondent, or a witness information that is otherwise confidential and relates to the sworn complaint if:

(1)

the employee makes a good faith determination that the disclosure is necessary to conduct the investigation;

(2)

the employee’s determination under Subdivision (1) is objectively reasonable;

(3)

the commission specifically authorizes the disclosure; and

(4)

the employee discloses only the information necessary to conduct the investigation.

(d)

A person commits an offense if the person intentionally:

(1)

destroys, mutilates, or alters information obtained under this chapter; or

(2)

removes information obtained under this chapter without permission as provided by this chapter.

(e)

An offense under Subsection (d) is a misdemeanor punishable by:

(1)

a fine of not less than $25 or more than $4,000;

(2)

confinement in the county jail for not less than three days or more than three months; or

(3)

both the fine and confinement.

(f)

A person commits an offense if the person distributes information considered confidential under the terms of this chapter.

(g)

A person who obtains access to confidential information under this chapter commits an offense if that person knowingly:

(1)

uses the confidential information for a purpose other than the purpose for which the information was received or for a purpose unrelated to this chapter, including solicitation of political contributions or solicitation of clients;

(2)

permits inspection of the confidential information by a person who is not authorized to inspect the information; or

(3)

discloses the confidential information to a person who is not authorized to receive the information.

(h)

An offense under Subsection (f) or (g) is a misdemeanor punishable by:

(1)

a fine of not more than $1,000;

(2)

confinement in the county jail for not more than six months; or

(3)

both the fine and confinement.

(i)

If conduct that constitutes an offense under this section also constitutes an offense under the Penal Code, including under Section 37.10 or 39.06 of that code, the person may be prosecuted under this section or the Penal Code, as applicable.

(j)

A violation under this section constitutes official misconduct.

(k)

In addition to other penalties, the respondent may commence a civil action for damages on the respondent’s own behalf against any person who is alleged to have disclosed information made confidential by this subchapter. Any action under this chapter must be brought in a district court in the county. The court may award costs and attorney’s fees.

(l)

A county employee is subject to discipline, including termination of employment, for disclosing confidential information under this chapter.

(m)

The commission may disclose confidential information in making a referral to a prosecuting attorney concerning an offense under this section.

(n)

A county employee who discloses confidential information in compliance with Subsection (c) or (m) is not subject to Subsections (d)-(l).
Added by Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 799 (S.B. 1368), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2009.
Amended by:
Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 160 (H.B. 2002), Sec. 15, eff. September 1, 2011.

Source: Section 161.173 — Confidentiality; Offense, https://statutes.­capitol.­texas.­gov/Docs/LG/htm/LG.­161.­htm#161.­173 (accessed Jun. 5, 2024).

161.001
Applicability of Chapter
161.002
Definitions
161.003
Conflict with Civil Service Agreement
161.051
Creation of Commission by Order
161.052
Creation of Commission by Election
161.053
Ballot
161.054
Result of Election
161.055
Appointment of Commission
161.056
Eligibility
161.057
Terms
161.058
Vacancies
161.059
Meetings
161.060
Removal of Commission Member
161.061
Legal Representation
161.101
General Powers
161.102
Advisory Opinions
161.103
Public Interest Information
161.104
Commission Member Education and Training
161.105
Education and Training for Persons Covered by Ethics Code
161.106
Certain Discussions of Pending Complaints Prohibited
161.107
Disclosure of Certain Contracts
161.151
Definitions
161.152
Complaint Procedures and Hearings
161.153
Hearings and Settlement
161.154
Categorization of Violations
161.155
Filing of Complaint
161.156
Processing of Complaint
161.157
Retaliation Against County Employee Reporting Violation of Ethics Code Prohibited
161.158
Preliminary Review: Initiation
161.159
Preliminary Review: Response by Respondent
161.160
Preliminary Review: Written Questions
161.161
Preliminary Review and Preliminary Review Procedures
161.162
Preliminary Review Hearing: Procedure
161.163
Preliminary Review Hearing: Resolution
161.164
Formal Hearing: Standard of Evidence
161.165
Formal Hearing: Subpoenas and Witnesses
161.166
Formal Hearing: Procedure
161.167
Formal Hearing: Resolution
161.168
Status of Complaint
161.169
Extension of Deadline
161.170
Subpoena
161.171
Status of Complainant
161.172
Applicability of Other Acts
161.173
Confidentiality
161.174
Availability of Commission Orders on Internet
161.201
Order
161.202
Civil Penalty for Delay or Violation
161.203
Waiver or Reduction of Penalty
161.204
Notification of Regulatory or Supervisory Entity
161.205
Civil Penalty for Frivolous or Bad-faith Complaint
161.206
Factors Considered for Assessment of Sanction
161.207
Appeals
161.208
Delivery of Record to Reviewing Court
161.209
Cost of Preparing Commission Record
161.210
Collections
161.301
Petition for Dissolution of Commission
161.302
Dissolution Election
161.303
Dissolution of Commission
161.304
Saving Provisions
161.0591
Chair
161.1551
Standing Preliminary Review Committee

Accessed:
Jun. 5, 2024

§ 161.173’s source at texas​.gov