Sunshine Week: Requesting public records from Harris County offices

All week long, Community Impact Newspaper has been promoting Sunshine Week to remind readers about the importance of open records access for both the press and the general public.

We have told you what open records you can request, some agencies you can request from, how to get them, as well as some proposed law changes that could affect open records access in Texas.

Harris County offices have a range of open records people can access, so we asked officials what requests are most commonly processed: 

 

 

District Clerk

The Harris County District Clerk’s office maintains records on current and historical criminal and civil data, trial judgments and background check information. The public can access some of these records through the Harris County District Clerk website. The site requires a login to retrieve information and may require docket numbers or other identifying information to retrieve documentation.

According to the clerk’s office, the most requested type of public information requests is for historical criminal data, which includes all criminal cases filed from Jan. 1, 1990, to the present.

To submit an open records request to the Harris County District Clerk for information that is not available online, such as detailed case information, use the online form.

 

District Attorney

The Harris County Attorney’s office does not track the types of public record requests received or the number of requests in a specific category, but the office’s relationship with the county's medical examiner service drives requests in one area in particular.

“Because our office represents the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences (the Medical Examiner), our most commonly received type of request is for autopsy reports,” said Assistant County Attorney Kristen Lee.

According to the office's website, the Harris County Attorney's Office represents the county, its employees, the county Hospital District, Flood Control District, Appraisal Review Board and several other county entities.

To submit a public records request with the Harris County Attorney's Office, use an online form or visit the attorney's Public Information Act web page for more information.

Sheriff's Office

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office maintains a website where the public can request information about criminal records by filling in an online form. A separate form is available for juvenile records from the county Juvenile Probation Department.


MOST RECENT

METRONext is the agency’s $3.5 billion bond approved by voters in November 2019, which aims to ease traffic congestion, add expansion to the METRO, and make accessibility and safety upgrades.
(Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)
METRO Board approves $1.3 billion budget, discusses METRONext projects

The METRO board of directors met Sept. 21 to give an overview of the drafted budget as well as to receive public comments. It was unanimously approved at the Sept. 23 board meeting.

Montgomery County Food Bank volunteers take donations. (Courtesy Montgomery County Food Bank)
Montgomery County Food Bank receives grant following February's winter storm

After the freeze put a strain on food bank operations, the United Way of Greater Houston awarded a grant worth over $116,000 to the Montgomery County Food Bank.

The Texas Secretary of State's office has launched an audit of 2020 election results in four of Texas’ largest counties: Harris, Dallas, Tarrant and Collin. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Texas Secretary of State's office announces audit of 2020 election results in Dallas, Collin, Tarrant and Harris counties

In a statement released Sept. 23, the office said it anticipates the state Legislature will fund the process.

Kyle City Council voted 6-1 and approved the new citywide trail master plan that will utilize 2020 bond election funds for trails that will help connect Austin to San Antonio. (Courtesy Pexels)
CI Nation roundup: Perfect Game coming to Cedar Park; Kyle City Council approves trail master plan to connect Austin to San Antonio and more top stories

Take a look at the top five trending stories across all of Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas as of Sept. 24.

Big League Dreams will reopen in December with updated turf, seating, nets, fencing, graphics and other upgrades. (Courtesy city of League City)
Big League Dreams to reopen in League City; New Caney ISD officials address student possession of a gun, and more top stories from Greater Houston

Read the most popular business and community news from the past week from the Greater Houston area.

Lone Star College System was awarded funding from Metallica's All Within My Hands Foundation for the third year in a row. (Andrew Christman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Lone Star College System receives funding from Metallica foundation for technical training

Lone Star College System has received around $225,000 over the past three years from the band's nonprofit foundation.

Comcast will award $1 million to small businesses owned by people of color in Fort Bend and Harris counties (Courtesy Fotolia)
Comcast Rise Investment Fund to award small business grants in Harris, Fort Bend counties

Comcast will award $1 million to small businesses owned by people of color in Fort Bend and Harris counties.

Several parents of New Caney ISD students spoke at the district's Sept. 20 board meetings about recent allegations that a student brought a firearm to Porter High School's Sept. 18 homecoming dance. NCISD Superintendent Matt Calvert stressed that no gunshots were fired at the event, and that the district is investigating the allegations. (Wesley Gardner/Community Impact Newspaper)
CI Nation roundup: Round Rock ISD trustees considered for censuring; New Caney ISD addresses allegations of student with gun at campus event and more top stories

Take a look at the top five trending stories across all of Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas as of Sept. 23.

According to the business's website, the new Jiffy Lube Multicare location offers a variety of vehicle maintenance services, including oil changes, brakes, batteries and tire services, among others. (Courtesy Jiffy Lube)
Jiffy Lube to celebrate grand opening in Atascocita with 50 free oil changes Sept. 24-25

Jiffy Lube will be donating proceeds from all paid automotive services during the two-day event to the Atascocita High School JROTC program, the Atascocita High School Sports Booster Club and the Atascocita Fire Department. 

Construction on a project to expand Northpark Drive from four to six lanes between Hwy. 59 and Russell Palmer Road and add an overpass over the railroad, has been delayed. (Ronald Winters/Community Impact Newspaper)
Construction on Northpark Drive overpass delayed until winter 2021

Construction is now slated to begin this winter due to challenges associated with right-of-way.

Six of the Lake Houston-area’s seven ZIP codes experienced a decrease in the number of homes sold in July as compared to July 2020, while ZIP code 77396 experienced an increase. (Courtesy Pexels)
See how the Lake Houston-area real estate market fared in July 2021

Six of the Lake Houston-area’s seven ZIP codes experienced a decrease in the number of homes sold in July as compared to July 2020, while ZIP code 77396 experienced an increase.

Learn the art of fire making, leather works and small-plot gardening at a Pioneer Lifestyle event from 1-5 p.m. Sept. 25 at Jesse H. Jones Park. (Courtesy of Harris County Precinct 4)
Experience pioneer life, go stargazing: 12 things to do in the Lake Houston area throughout September, October

Here are a few events and things to do in the Lake Houston area throughout the months of September and October.