SHOPO v. City & County of Honolulu

On February 22, 2018, Civil Beat requested the arbitration decision concerning Darren Cachola.  In September 2014, video surfaced that showed Cachola repeatedly beating a woman.  After the Honolulu Police Department (HPD) sought to terminate Cachola, the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers (SHOPO) filed a grievance, and an arbitrator ordered him reinstated in February 2018.  After HPD stated that it would release the arbitrator’s decision to the public, SHOPO filed a complaint to stop the City’s disclosure.  Because SHOPO did not name Civil Beat as a party to the lawsuit, Civil Beat moved to intervene on May 30, 2018, to protect the public right to disclosure of the government information that it requested.  The case was assigned to Judge Jeffrey P. Crabtree.  Civil No. 18-1-823-05 JPC.  On April 29, 2019, Judge Crabtree ordered disclosure of the arbitration decision and underlying HPD closing report with redactions.  Final judgment entered May 24, 2019.  SHOPO appealed, and Civil Beat cross-appealed.  Judge Crabtree stayed the disclosure decision pending SHOPO’s appeal.  On October 24, 2019, the Hawaii Supreme Court accepted the case on application for transfer.  SCAP-19-450.  The Supreme Court heard oral argument on December 8, 2020, and lifted the stay of disclosure pending appeal on December 16.

On September 17, 2021, the Hawaii Supreme Court issued its opinion, holding, among other things:  (1) there is no private right of action under the UIPA to stop disclosure of records; (2) the constitutional right of privacy is not defined by UIPA privacy balancing; and (3) the public has a strong public interest in police misconduct records.