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.


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