State ex rel. Torricer v. Liberty Dialysis-Hawaii LLC (Confidential Flag)
In 2018, the Law Center learned more about the State Judiciary’s use of a confidential flag. The confidential flag seals the entire case from public view, including the names of the parties, the docket, and the identities of counsel. Subsequent motions to unseal in specific cases raised questions about whether these cases generally deserved this extreme level of secrecy. One case was an employment dispute involving GEICO Insurance Company (No. 1CC131002053), and another case concerned disputes over the union nonprofit Unity House (No. 1CC000056396). At the request of the Law Center, the State Judiciary provided the case numbers for all regular civil cases filed in circuit court with a confidential flag since 2005.
On September 8, 2023, the Law Center moved to unseal files in another case. It was a false claims action filed in state court and removed to federal court. The motion was heard by Judge Dean E. Ochiai. On October 20, Judge Ochiai ordered the case unsealed. No. 1CC191000187; see also No. 19-CV-101 (D. Haw.).
Unsealed: Because the action was removed to and heard by the federal court, the State Judiciary’s original paper files were transferred to federal court. According to information filed in the case after the Law Center’s motion to unseal, it appears that the State Judiciary did not retain any copies of records as filed. The federal court, however, has the state records publicly available.