Friday, January 30, 2009


Appeals court upholds attorney-client privilege in Kauai County Council vs. Office of Information Practices

by Larry Geller

This case arose out of Council's holding ES-177, a closed meeting, on January 20, 2005 to discuss whether Council should investigate allegedly unethical activity of the Kauai Police Department (KPD).

Yeah, the meeting was almost exactly four years ago.

The reason that this case is significant is that public agencies routinely cite attorney-client privilege as a reason to withhold information on secret meetings or documents from the public. In this case, anyway, the court found the claim to be justified.,To unfairly snip just a few words from a long opinion, this was the lower court finding:

…this Court finds that although the principles behind the sunshine laws serve an important purpose, there are compelling reasons for respecting and preserving the attorney-client privilege, that is also afforded to public agencies.

OIP felt the minutes could/should be redacted and released, the courts felt it would be impractical. In this case. We, the public, therefore, won’t find out what was discussed at the meeting. I’m not saying the decision is wrong, just noting that the discussion will remain secret.

For those who like or need to read these opinions, this one is here.


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