Thursday, April 11, 2013
ACLU files suit under Hawaii’s open records law
by Larry Geller
The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii filed suit today against the Hawaii Department of Public Safety to break loose public records that the PSD has been withholding—even though the requestor has paid $5,327.50 in fees to obtain them. The law firm Rosen, Bien, Galvan & Grunfeld, LLLP, filed a written request for documents on September 21, 2012 but has received nothing to-date, according to the complaint (see below). In the interim they have communicated numerous times with PSD and the complaint documents promises made but never kept.
Hawaii’s open records law, the Uniform Information Practices Act, provides timetables for the production of records and procedures for an agency to obtain reasonable delays in order to either prepare them or provide reasons why they cannot be turned over.
ACLU of Hawaii Senior Staff Attorney Daniel Gluck said in a press release today, “Hawaii’s open records law is expansive and clear; agencies have an obligation to respond to requests for records in a thorough and timely manner. We have done all we can to resolve this matter outside of the courts, but when the state ignores its obligations under the law, we have to step in.”
The complaint is good reading for anyone struggling to obtain open records from a state agency. It explains the statutes and administrative rules that govern when a state agency must respond to a request under the open records law. I noted that the plaintiff kept careful records of phone calls and emails.
It appears from the document that plaintiffs RBGG did not ask for assistance from the Office of Information Practices. There is no requirement under the law for them to do that, and this lawsuit may illustrate whether going directly to court represents a better alternative for many who are able to mount a legal challenge. Most requests would not incur such a large fee, so this one is likely an outlier in some respects.
This document is an OCR copy and may contain errors. Do not rely on this document.