HIGH COURT DENIES OIP APPEAL OF “ES-177” CASE:
(PNN) -- In a stunning rebuke to the authority and power of the Office Of Information Practices (OIP) the Hawai`i State Supreme Court, without comment, upheld the intermediate court of appeals denial of OIP’s ordered release of the infamous minutes of the “ES-177” Kauai County Council meeting held in January of 2006.
The Monday decision upholds the original ruling of fifth circuit court Judge Kathleen Watanabe that the attorney-client protected material in the minutes is “irretrievably intertwined” with the material that the OIP ordered released to the public.
More importantly it also sets a precedent upholding the notion that individual agencies may now sue in circuit court to overturn OIP rulings despite apparent legislative intent and construction that allowed OIP to have “final say” on matters involving the state sunshine (open meetings- HRS 92-section 1) and Uniform Information Practices Act or UIPA (open records- HRS 92F) laws
The executive session was called to purportedly allow the council to discuss a council investigation of the Kaua`i Police Department (KPD) but the minutes were believed to contain a wide ranging discussion of specific charges against KPD personnel by former police officer and then council member Mel Rapozo according to OIP letters to the county attorney that were released to the public at the time.
For a detailed analysis of and links to the OIP brief see our July 1 post or click here to listen to the entire audio recording of the audio arguments or here to read the background at the state judiciary web site.
The following is the full text of Monday’s ruling:
ORDER AFFIRMING JUDGMENT ON APPEAL
(By: Moon, C.J., Nakayama, Acoba, and Duffy, JJ., and Circuit Judge Hare, in place of Recktenwald, J., recused)
Petitioners/Defendants-Appellants Office of Information Practices filed a timely application for a writ of certiorari from the judgment of the Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA) dated February 19, 2009, entered pursuant to the publishedopinion dated January 30, 2009 in County of Kauai v. Office of Information Practices, 120 Hawaii 34, 200 P.3d 403 (App. 2009) which affirmed the February 11, 2008 judgment of the circuit court of the fifth Circuit. This court accepted certiorari on June 23, 2009, and subsequently ordered oral argument.
Upon careful review of the record and the briefs submitted by the parties, having given due consideration to the arguments advanced and the issues raised, and also having heard and carefully considered the parties' respective arguments at oral argument held on August 10, 2009,
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the ICA's February 19, 2009 judgment on appeal is affirmed.
DATED: Honolulu, Hawai`i, October 26, 2009.
(Sent to attorneys) Paul T. Tsukiyama, Cathy L. Takase, and Jennifer Z. Brooks, (of Office of Information Practices) , and Gail Y. Cosgrove and Kunio Kuwabe (of Hisaka Yoshida & Cosgrove) for petitioners/defendants/appellants
Alfred B. Castillo (of Office of the County Attorney, County of Kauai) David J. Minkin and Becky T. Chestnut (of McCorriston Miller Mukai MacKinnon LLP) for respondents/plaintiffs appellees.