Posted on Aug 1, 2022 in Featured, What's New

The State Office of Information Practices has posted the FY 2022 opinions described below.  For formal opinion numbers starting with an “F,” a summary and the full text of the opinion has been posted on the formal opinions page at oip.hawaii.gov.  For the remaining informal opinions, you can link to either the Sunshine Law or UIPA informal opinions page where more extensive summaries have been posted.  The full text of an informal opinion is available upon request.

F22-02:  A requester sought a date-stamped copy of a complaint that she had submitted to the Commission on Judicial Conduct (CJC), which receives complaints against Hawaii justices and judges and recommends dispositions to the Hawaii Supreme Court.  OIP held that the CJC properly denied the request because the nonadministrative functions of the courts are not subject to the UIPA.

F22-03:  The Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) denied a request for records relating to its former chief investment officer’s departure.  OIP concluded that a portion of the responsive records could be withheld under the UIPA’s privacy exception and the attorney-client privilege as recognized under the frustration exception.  ERS’s search for responsive records, although delayed, was ultimately a reasonable one, but OIP concluded that ERS had not provided the requester a good faith estimate of fees in response to his request as required under the UIPA.

S MEMO 22-01:  During the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Ige issued a series of emergency proclamations that included partial suspensions of the Sunshine Law, which only required boards to timely post its meeting notices on the applicable electronic calendar and to electronically email notices to those on its email list.  OIP found that the Honolulu City Council properly met and even exceeded the proclamation’s requirements by also posting timely notice on its own website, filing the notice with the Honolulu City Clerk, and posting paper copies on bulletin boards in Honolulu Hale.

U MEMO 22-02:  Requester sought from the University of Hawaii a copy of a workplace nonviolence complaint made against her.  OIP concluded that the open investigation exemption to the disclosure of personal records allowed the University of Hawaii to deny a record request while the investigation was still ongoing.

U MEMO 22-03:  The Department of Public Safety (PSD) disclosed the names and actual dates of release from PSD custody of seven 2018 inmates after this appeal opened, but not their scheduled release dates, which Requester had also sought.  OIP concluded that PSD must also disclose those inmates’ scheduled release dates because the dates are public under the UIPA and are readily retrievable.  Additionally, OIP noted that when an agency is unclear as to what records are being sought under the UIPA, it should seek clarification on that point from the requester.

While the investigations were still pending, Requester also sought records pertaining to investigations into whether seven inmates were kept in PSD custody beyond their scheduled release dates in 2018.  OIP concluded that PSD properly denied access to the investigation records to avoid interference with the investigations and thus frustration of its investigative function.  OIP further concluded that PSD did not maintain another record that the requester sought of the “spreadsheet that PSD relied on in calculating the percentage and number of inmates who were held beyond their release date in 2018.”

U MEMO 22-04:  A requester appealed PSD’s denial of her request for the use of force policy for a contractor-operated prison that houses Hawaii inmates.  OIP concluded that the use of force policy was not subject to mandatory disclosure in its entirety as an administrative rule.  However, PSD was only entitled to withhold limited portions of the policy under the UIPA’s frustration exception, on the basis that their disclosure would significantly risk circumvention of agency regulations concerning the security of the prisons or the control of inmates.

U MEMO 22-05:   This case concerned a dispute over whether an agency properly redacted from a completed investigation the names and identifying information of what the agency claimed were confidential sources.  OIP concluded that the records must be disclosed because the agency had not met its burden to factually establish that the individuals spoke under an express or implied promise of confidentiality and would have been reluctant to do so otherwise.

U MEMO 22-06:  OIP upheld two agencies’ denials of records related to alleged employment misconduct because they were conducting ongoing investigations into the misconduct when the request was made.  For records that must be disclosed, confidential information could be redacted pursuant to the privacy exception or the frustration exception.

U MEMO 22-07:  Requester sought a decision as to whether the University of Hawaii (UH) properly denied in part his request for UH conflicts of interest disclosure forms and management plans for an employee of the UH Cancer Center of the John A. Burns School of Medicine (the Professor).  After balancing the Professor’s significant privacy interests in the records against the public interest in disclosure, OIP concluded that the records may not be withheld under the UIPA’s privacy exception, except for the specific amounts or range of amounts (e.g., $0 – 4,999 per year) that the Professor receives in income or compensation from any entity or individual outside of the University.