Posted on Apr 1, 2003 in Formal Opinions

Opinion Letter No. 03-03
April 1, 2003
Judicial Selection Commission List of Nominees

The Governor and the Chief Justice are not required to make public the list of six nominees selected by the Judicial Selection Commission (“JSC”) to fill judicial vacancies (“List of Nominees”) after the list is delivered to them and prior to confirmation of their respective appointments by the Senate.

While a nominee has a significant privacy interest in being nominated under section 92F-14(b)(4), Hawaii Revised Statutes, when weighed against the importance of a judicial appointment, the public interest in opening up the workings of government is greater, and disclosure would not be a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy under section 92F-13(1), Hawaii Revised Statutes.

However, the importance of the judicial appointment process necessitates the conclusion that the appointing authority may withhold disclosure of the List of Nominees before the Senate confirms appointment of an individual from the List of Nominees.

If a List of Nominees is made public before the appointing authority makes his or her selection, the possibility that interested groups will “lobby” the appointing authority, either in favor of or against a nominee, and that the selection process will be manipulated to circumvent the appointing authority’s appointment power is sufficiently serious.

Such conduct would frustrate a legitimate government function. Thus, the appointing authority may withhold disclosure of the List of Nominees to the public under Section 92F-13(3), Hawaii Revised Statutes.

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