Category Archives: Sunshine

Download the free app for Hawaii Court info

Check out the state judiciary’s (relatively) new app for iPhone or Android. It’s been available for a couple of months, but I just noticed it a week or so ago. It’s available for download from the courts’ website.

The app makes it very easy to do a quick check of available court records from phone or tablet.

Here’s their description:

The Hawaii State Judiciary is proud to introduce a free mobile app that is available for both iOS and Android devices. The Hawaii Courts Mobile app can be used to access court records, learn more about jury service, or obtain information about free legal services.

“This app will provide easy access to a wealth of information about our courts,” said Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald during his State of the Judiciary address. “Today, it is now available at the fingertips of anyone with a mobile device….and we are only the second statewide judiciary in the country to offer this service to the public. We hope to continue building upon the app’s features and services in the near future.”

Website analytics show that 37% of website users are viewing the Hawaii State Judiciary’s website from their mobile device or tablet. The mobile app is a way to better reach the mobile users and provide information in a format that makes it easier to navigate the legal system.

The mobile app can be downloaded by searching terms such as “Hawaii Courts” or “Hawaii State Judiciary”. Please call the Communications and Community Relations Office if you have further questions about the mobile app at 808-539-4909.

Download Using the Appropriate Link Below:
For iphone
For Android

This morning at the beach park

Every day is different.

Same walk, same places, about the same time. Every day.

But each day is somehow different. Subtle variations in wind, clouds, tides, temperature, shadows, light, can transform the world in subtle ways.

And so it was this morning.

Waialae Beach Park at 7:33 a.m. A little less than a quarter-mile from our house. We were on the back end of our early morning walk, heading for home.

Thursday, February 2

Reporting of Maui sunshine law complaint criticized

A blog post by Kauai journalist Joan Conrow took the Garden Island newspaper to task for apparently basing a story on a Maui sunshine law complaint solely on a press release from the authors of the complaint.

The complaint was filed with the Office of Information Practices by the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA), headed by former Kauai county council member Gary Hooser.

HAPA alleged “egregious violations” of the sunshine law by Maui County Council Chair Mike White.

According to the Garden Island:

After Election Day, on Nov. 9, documents show that White met, either in person or via phone or electronic means, with multiple members of the Maui County Council, discussed the council organization and came to a decision that involved agreement by a quorum — all without public notice and without a public meeting being held.

Conrow points out that the one-sided Garden Island story contrasted with a report in the Maui News, which included comments from White and reference to prior OIP rulings.

From the Maui News:

White countered in an email to The Maui News that an opinion letter published by OIP on Nov. 14, 2002, confirmed that incoming council members are not subject to the state Sunshine Law until taking office. He added that the complaint filed by HAPA is “highly political and unsubstantiated.

“This is the same political organization that trained many of the ‘Ohana Coalition candidates, including my opponent, that ran against sitting members in the last election,” White said. “This organization and their supporters are using fear tactics and intimidation to try and get their way.”

Click here to read a summary of the 2002 OIP opinion, or the opinion’s full text.

The opinion confirmed White’s view that new council members are not subject to the law until they take office. In addition, the opinion notes a provision allowing limited private discussions about the selection of officers.

The sunshine law provides:

Discussions between two or more members of a board, but less than the number of members which would constitute a quorum for the board, concerning the selection of the board’s officers may be conducted in private without limitation or subsequent reporting.

Interestingly, the 2002 opinion was made in response to a request by then-Garden Island reporter, Tony Sommers.

Investigative reporting center challenges University of Louisville Foundation secrecy

The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting has been reporting on efforts to break through the secrecy surrounding the University of Louisville Foundation.

Like the University of Hawaii Foundation, it is a nonprofit organization that serves as the university’s fundraising arm.

KCIR reports that the state’s attorney general has issued several rulings that the foundation’s failure to provide certain records has violated the state’s public records law.

This is not an isolated case. Our newsroom has at least four other pending appeals related to U of L or the foundation’s failures to provide records.

The purpose of the Open Records Act is clear: Public records should be made available to the public quickly and expediently.

Nonetheless, when dealing with U of L and the foundation, it’s an adventure of interminable delays, obfuscation, missed deadlines and more. We are left with no options but to appeal to the attorney general. It’s become routine.

A Kentucky Supreme Court decision in 2008 affirmed that the foundation is a public agency, at least for purposes of the state’s public records law. The case involved a request for identifying information of some 47,000 persons who had contributed to the university through the foundation. The court held that the donor records are personal records, and then had to weigh the privacy interests of donors against the public interest in disclosure.

The public has a legitimate interest in the functions of the Foundation. ? As noted above, the Court of Appeals determined that the Foundation is a public agency within the meaning of the Open Records Act, and that ruling has not been disturbed by this Court. ? The Court of Appeals’ conclusion was predicated on the finding that the Foundation and the University essentially act as one and the same, and that the Foundation was established, created, and wholly controlled by the University. ? As a public institution that receives taxpayer dollars, the public certainly has an interest in the operation and administration of the University.

The Foundation’s stated goal is to advance the charitable and educational purposes of the University of Louisville. ? To this end, it solicits, receives, and spends money and other assets on behalf of the University. ? The public’s legitimate interest in the University’s operations then logically extends to the operations of the Foundation.

Moreover, the Courier-Journal has argued, and we agree, that certain donors may not simply wish to conceal their identities, but rather may wish to conceal the true purposes of their donations. ? Donors, particularly those making substantial gifts, may wish to influence the University’s decisions and policies, or to have some type of benefit conferred upon them by the University. ? The record supports this contention-several anonymous donors specifically indicated that their gifts were being made with the understanding that they would receive tickets to athletic functions. ? Accordingly, we agree that the public’s interest is particularly piqued by large donations from anonymous donors, and that a legitimate question of influence is raised by such circumstances. [case citations removed]

After reviewing the facts, the court ruled that all but 62 of the donors had to be disclosed. The 62 held exempt from disclosure had requested anonymity prior to the decision that the Foundation is subject to the state’s public records law and donors identities a matter of public record.

In Hawaii, I believe the status of the UH Foundation is still controversial. A 1997 opinion by the Office of Information Practices held that all donor information is exempt from disclosure, but I don’t think this issue has gone up to the Hawaii Supreme Court. At least such a case doesn’t appear in OIP’s listing of prior Hawaii court decisions.