Posted on Nov 12, 2003 in Formal Opinions

Opinion Letter No. 03-18
November 12, 2003
Closed Investigation of Deputy Attorney General

[NOTE:  This opinion was partially overruled by OIP Op. Ltr. No. F13-01.]

Two individuals filed a complaint with the Attorney General against an employee. They later requested a redacted copy of the investigation conducted on the employee.

Under Part II of the UIPA, the employee who is the subject of the investigation has a significant privacy interest in “personnel” type information under section 92F-14(b)(4), HRS, which outweighs any public interest in the record. Thus, under Part II of the UIPA, the requesters are not entitled to a redacted version of the investigation, and the Attorney General may withhold it from public disclosure.

However, because the investigation refers to the employee as well as one of the complainants, it is a joint personal record, i.e., it is both the employee’s and the complainant’s personal record. Under Part III of the UIPA, the complainant is entitled to access information about him that is maintained by government.

This opinion sets forth an important policy with regard to joint personal records. If a record and/or information contains an individual’s name or other identifying particular, there is a presumption that it is a personal record entirely accessible to the requester (subject to the exemptions in section 92F-22, HRS). However, this presumption can be rebutted if it can be shown that certain information is not “about” the requester, but is “about” someone else, and in the interest of protecting personal privacy, it would be a violation of Part II of the UIPA to disclose the other person’s information to the requester.

Due to the unique circumstances in this case, segregation of the investigation is warranted, insofar as it is reasonably segregable, because disclosure to the complainant of the portions of the investigation that pertain solely to the employee would be a clearly unwarranted invasion of the employee’s privacy.

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