Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court — No. SCAP-16-0000114
No. SCAP-16-0000114, Thursday, June 1, 2017, 10 a.m.
PEER NEWS LLC, DBA CIVIL BEAT, Petitioner/Plaintiff-Appellant, vs. CITY AND COUNTY OF HONOLULU and DEPARTMENT OF BUDGET AND FISCAL SERVICES, Respondents/Defendants-Appellees. CITY AND COUNTY OF HONOLULU and DEPARTMENT OF BUDGET AND FISCAL SERVICES, Respondents/Defendants-Third-Party Plaintiffs-Appellees, vs. OFFICE OF INFORMATION PRACTICES, STATE OF HAWAI I, Respondent/Third-Party Defendant-Appellee.
The above-captioned case has been set for argument on the merits at:
Supreme Court Courtroom
Ali iolani Hale, 2nd Floor
417 South King Street
Honolulu, HI 96813
Attorney for Petitioner/Plaintiff-Appellant:
Robert Brian Black
Attorney for Respondents/Defendants-Appellees:
Duane W. H. Pang, Deputy Corporation Counsel
NOTE: Order granting Application for Transfer, filed 10/12/16.
COURT: MER, C.J.; PAN, SSM, RWP, and MDW, JJ.
In March 2015, a reporter from the online news website, Civil Beat, requested access to the operating budget requests from each of the executive departments in the City and County of Honolulu. The Department of Budget and Fiscal Services (DBFS) denied the request as the documents were protected from disclosure by the deliberative process privilege.
Civil Beat filed a complaint in the Circuit Court of the First Circuit against the City and DBFS seeking: (1) an order declaring that OIP’s adoption of the deliberative process privilege was palpably erroneous and enjoining Defendants from invoking the privilege to deny access information, and (2) an order directing Defendants to disclose all of the information sought in Civil Beat’s request.
Defendants filed two motions for summary judgment, one for each count in the complaint, to which Civil Beat responded by filing two cross-motions for summary judgment. The circuit court ruled in favor of Defendants on all motions. Following its appeal to the Intermediate Court of Appeals, Civil Beat filed an application for transfer, which was granted.
Civil Beat presents three questions for review:
(1) Whether OIP and the circuit court erred in recognizing the deliberative process privilege.
(2) Whether the circuit court erred in its application of the deliberative process privilege analytical framework when it did not consider the public interest in disclosure of government financial information, the lack of harm to the privilege’s core concern for personal opinions of vulnerable employees, or the passage of time.
(3) Whether the circuit court erred when it held the requested departmental budget memoranda are protected by the deliberative process privilege, and permitted the City to withhold the memoranda in its entirety.