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Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court–No. SCAP-19-0000450

No. SCAP-19-0000450, Tuesday, December 8, 2020, 8:45 a.m.

STATE OF HAWAII ORGANIZATION OF POLICE OFFICERS (SHOPO), exclusive representative for Bargaining Unit 12, Police, Plaintiff-Appellant/Cross-Appellee, vs. CITY AND COUNTY OF HONOLULU, Defendant-Cross-Claim Defendant-Appellee/Cross-Appellee, and HONOLULU CIVIL BEAT, INC., Intervenor-Defendant-Crossclaimant-Appellee/Cross-Appellant.

The above-captioned case was set for argument on the merits at:

The oral argument will be held remotely and will be livestreamed for public viewing via the Judiciary’s YouTube channel at

Attorneys for Plaintiff-Appellant/Cross-Appellee SHOPO:

Vladimir P. Devens and Keani Alapa of the Law Offices of Vladimir P. Devens, LLC

Attorneys for Defendant-Crossclaim Defendant-Appellee/Cross-Appellee City and County of Honolulu:

Molly A. Stebbins and Duane W. H. Pang, Deputies Corporation Counsel

Attorneys for Intervenor-Defendant-Crossclaimant-Appellee/Cross-Appellant Honolulu Civil Beat:

Robert Brian Black and Lisa Emily Engebretsen of the Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest

NOTE: Order granting Application for Transfer, filed 10/24/19.

NOTE: Certificate of Recusal, by Associate Justice Richard W. Pollack, filed 05/26/20.

NOTE: Order assigning Circuit Court Judge Karen T. Nakasone, in place of Pollack, J., recused, filed 05/26/20.

NOTE: Certificate of Recusal, by substitute justice Nakasone, filed 11/05/20.

NOTE: Order assigning Circuit Court Judge Peter T. Cahill, in place of substitute justice Nakasone, recused, filed 11/09/20.

COURT: Recktenwald, C.J., Nakayama, McKenna, and Wilson, JJ., and Circuit Court judge Cahill, in place of substitute justice Nakasone, recused.

[ Listen to the entire audio recording in mp3 format ]

Brief Description:

Pursuant to the Uniform Information Practices Act (UIPA), Civil Beat requested documents from Defendant City & County of Honolulu (City) related to the reinstatement of a Honolulu Police Department (HPD) officer. The City and HPD agreed to the documents’ disclosure.

Thereafter, the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers (SHOPO) sued the City to prevent the public release of the documents, relying both on statutory and constitutional privacy protections. Civil Beat intervened, arguing that no cause of action existed for SHOPO to sue to prevent the disclosure of public records. The circuit court concluded that there was, but after in camera review of the records, ordered that they be disclosed in redacted form. In making this determination, the circuit court relied on Peer News LLC v. City & County of Honolulu, 138 Hawai i 53, 376 P.3d 1 (2016).

SHOPO and Civil Beat cross-appealed, and the Supreme Court accepted transfer. On appeal, SHOPO asserts that the circuit court failed to address all of its claims for relief and misapplied the Peer News test. Civil Beat argues that there is no cause of action for SHOPO to sue to prevent the disclosure of the documents, and that UIPA does not require an agency to withhold records.