A little over a year ago, country music star Randy Travis was arrested for DWI, an event that was captured on the arresting officers’ dashboard video cameras. After pleading guilty, Travis’ attorney asked the court for a protective order requiring the Department of Public Saftey to destroy all copies and transcripts of the video. The trial court granted the motion. When DPS received a copy of the order, it moved to set it aside, but the trial court denied that motion. In the interim, DPS received an open records request for a copy of the video under the Texas Public Information Act. The Attorney General ruled that parts of the video could be redacted, but the rest of it must be released as public information. DPS sought mandamus relief to set aside the destruction order. Citing the AG’s ruling that the video was public information, the Court of Appeals concluded that the trial court had no jurisdiction to order that it not be released in response to an open records request, and therefore also had no authority to order that it be destroyed.
It will be a while before the video hits the Internet, however. In accordance with the PIA, Travis has filed suit in Austin to set aside the Attorney General’s ruling that the arrest video should be released. The Court of Appeals expressed no opinion on the merits of that challenge.
In re: Tex. Dep’t of Pub. Safety, No. 05-13-00882-CV