U Memo 21-2

Posted on Jul 31, 2020 in Informal Opinions - UIPA Opinions

U Memo 21-2
July 31, 2020
Autopsy Report

Requester sought a copy of an autopsy report (Autopsy Report), which included a toxicology report.  The Hawaii County Police Department (POLICE-H) denied access for several reasons and Requester filed this appeal.  The Autopsy Report contains medical information and psychiatric information including the presence of alcohol, drugs, or other substances.  Based on the precedent set in OIP Opinion Letter Number F15-01, the subject of the Autopsy Report (Decedent) retains a privacy interest in his medical information after death.  However, based on the analysis set out in that opinion, OIP found here that the public interest in disclosure of the Autopsy Report outweighs the privacy interest of the Decedent therein, so disclosure would not constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of Decedent’s personal privacy and the Autopsy Report may not be withheld on that basis.  HRS §§ 92F13(1), 92F-14(a) (2012).

Surviving family members sometimes also have privacy interests in information about a deceased individual that outweigh the public interest in disclosure of all or a portion of an autopsy or toxicology report.  Here, however, the Autopsy Report does not contain graphic or similarly sensitive information that surviving family members would have a significant privacy interest in that could warrant withholding access to the Autopsy Report to protect their interests.