Posted on Mar 27, 2024 in Featured, What's New

The State Office of Information Practices (OIP) issued five written opinions in March and updated the searchable subject matter indices for Uniform Information Practices Act (UIPA) and Sunshine Law cases, as well as the list of OIP’s formal opinion letters.  They can be accessed through the Opinions page at oip.hawaii.gov.

In OIP Op. Ltr. No. F24-05, OIP concluded that the Hawaii County Department of Finance was authorized to withhold emails under the UIPA’s exceptions for records protected by the attorney-client privilege.  While OIP’s previous opinions have applied the attorney-client privilege to government records subject to Part II, this opinion also recognized the privilege for personal records subject to Part III, citing section 92F-22(5), HRS.  If the requester still sought access to the non-privileged communications and was willing to pay applicable fees and costs for processing heavily redacted email copies, then the portions simply expressing gratitude or pleasantries and non-substantive header information must be disclosed.

With this latest formal opinion, OIP has updated its UIPA index and Sunshine Law index, which allow key word searches for OIP’s formal opinions by subject matter.  OIP has also updated its list of OIP formal opinion letters providing the opinion numbers, issuance date, and short title of its main subject matter.  These tools make it easier for people to research and find relevant formal opinions on topics that OIP has already considered.

Additionally, OIP issued the following informal opinions, which are not considered precedential as they do not resolve new legal issues and instead apply existing formal opinions and law to the particular facts of those cases.  The first three opinions below concerned the UIPA and the fourth involved the Sunshine Law.

U Memo 24-06:  OIP found that the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DCR) conducted a reasonable search and concluded that DCR properly denied a 2020 request for records that had been purged in 2019 after requester abandoned his 2014 request for them, and DCR was under no further obligation to search for the records.

U Memo 24-07:  A requester sought a video recording and written statements relating to his unsuccessful employment application to the County of Hawaii Police Department, along with its recruitment policies and procedures.  OIP concluded that the Department had established that it did not maintain a video recording and written statements as requested, so could not provide them.  However, OIP concluded that the recruitment policies and procedures must be disclosed under the UIPA.

U Memo 24-08:  A requester sought a copy of her own work ID card and the agency’s policies on administrative leave.  OIP concluded that the Hawaii Paroling Authority must provide the requester a copy of her work ID card under the UIPA’s personal records provisions.  OIP further concluded that the Authority must provide the relevant union contract, which was responsive to the request for policies on administrative leave.

S Memo 24-01:  A requester asked whether the State Public Charter School Commission (PCSC) violated the Sunshine Law during a meeting in 2022 (2022 Meeting) and another meeting in 2023 (2023 Meeting).  OIP concluded that PCSC violated the Sunshine Law during the 2022 Meeting by (1) discussing the topic of contract compliance overall, which did not have a sufficient nexus to and was not a natural consequence of discussing the agenda item limited to one specific portion of the contract regarding a new program and (2) by adding a new issue to be investigated by an existing permitted interaction group.  OIP also concluded that PCSC successfully avoided a violation of the Sunshine Law during the 2023 Meeting and prevented public harm by refusing to discuss a topic that was not listed in its agenda.  OIP further concluded that PCSC’s minutes for the 2023 Meeting contained a minor violation of the Sunshine Law and should be amended to reflect which members spoke during a section of the minutes.

For impartial and objective open government news, please read these What’s New articles archived at oip.hawaii.gov, or email [email protected] with your email address and a request to have new articles emailed directly to you.