Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest, Inc. v. City & County of Honolulu

The Law Center challenged the Honolulu Police Commission’s interpretation that the Sunshine Law required closure of a public meeting concerning the “Status of the Chief of Police.”  On January 4, 6, and 18, 2017, the Honolulu Police Commission met behind closed doors to discuss its evaluation of the police chief and voted in closed session to approve a retirement agreement.  The Commission’s public statements reveal several misinterpretations of law regarding open meetings.  The case was assigned to Judge Virginia L. Crandall.  Civil No. 17-1-0142-01 VLC.  On November 30, Judge Crandall entered judgment in favor of the Commission.  The Law Center appealed.  No. CAAP-17-899, No. SCAP-17-899.  On June 26, 2019, the Hawai`i Supreme Court held that the Sunshine Law does not require closure of a public meeting and will not punish a board member for holding an open meeting.  It also clarified the meaning of the Sunshine Law’s personnel privacy exception and attorney consultation exception.  The case has been remanded to the circuit court to determine whether the Honolulu Police Commission violated the Sunshine Law in January 2017.