03-20Posted on Dec 17, 2003 in Formal Opinions
Opinion Letter No. 03-20
December 17, 2003
Oversight Committee for the First Circuit Family Court
[Please note that opinions discussing the deliberative process privilege have been materially affected by the Hawaii Supreme Court’s majority opinion in Peer News LLC v. City and County of Honolulu, 143 Haw. 472 (Dec. 21, 2018).]
A member of the public asked the OIP for an opinion on the Judiciary’s denial of his request for records relating to the Oversight Committee for the First Circuit Family Court (“Oversight Committee”).
A portion of the Oversight Committee’s work involved issues relating to court rules and other matters that control the conduct of litigation and regulate the interaction between litigants and the courts. That work was a nonadministrative function of the Judiciary, and hence not subject to the UIPA. See Haw. Rev. Stat. § 92F-3 (1993). Nonetheless, the OIP assumed without deciding that some part of the Oversight Committee’s work involved issues relating to administrative functions of the Judiciary.
The Judiciary is not required to hold open meetings under Part I of chapter 92, HRS, and the Oversight Committee meetings were closed. Thus, minutes of the meetings were not required to be made available as minutes of a meeting open to the public. See Haw. Rev. Stat. § 92F-12(a)(7) (1993).
The Oversight Committee records as a whole were predecisional and fell within the deliberative process privilege. In addition, some portions of the records would disclose the identity of confidential sources. Thus, the records could be withheld because their release would frustrate a legitimate government function. See Haw. Rev. Stat. § 92F-13(3) (1993).