The information contained in case files of offenders on community supervision (probation) by the Palo Pinto County CSCD is considered confidential and not open to public view. Because the CSCD maintains those files on offenders solely on behalf of the court, records of persons on community supervision are considered records of the judiciary and are not subject to the Open Records/Public Information Act. The fact that a person is under supervision, for what offense, and for how long may be released by the CSCD.
Material that is considered public record generally includes information on documents filed and only available through the Palo Pinto County Clerk’s Office for misdemeanants or the District Clerk’s Office for felons.
Valid and legal claim to information may exist when the request originates from a law enforcement agency, a prosecutor (including those from other counties), the Attorney General’s Office, an agency of the federal government, a judge with a valid interest in the defendant, or another CSCD conducting supervision or a pre-sentence investigation. These requests for information may be honored without having the probationer sign a release form.
A probationer and/or defense attorney may only view a pre-sentence report from the file at the time of sentencing; no other file material will be shown unless so ordered by the court. Victims have special rights not accorded other individuals, and may have access to additional information. For further information on the Victim Services Program, visit the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website.
Some information about an offender may be obtained with a release of information form. The form must specifically state what information is being requested, who the information will be released to, and the form must be signed and dated by the offender. This type of release is generally used when an offender wants information about his or her supervision shared with a family member or significant other, or outside agency. A family member or other interested person may not have access to information in the probationer’s file without written consent of the offender, and even with a signed consent form, because the files are judicial records, only limited information will be released.
The supervision officer may also have the offender sign a release form so that the officer can obtain information from an outside agency in order to better supervise the offender. This information may include medical records, records from treatment for mental or emotional disorders, substance abuse treatment information, and information pertaining to employment or education.