Public First Law Center v. Defender Council

Under the Sunshine Law, Public First challenged the actions of two State boards that each hired–entirely behind closed doors–a top official to run important government functions.  On August 8, 2023, the Board of Directors for the Agribusiness Development Corporation secretly selected an Executive Director to manage the millions of dollars in taxpayer funds and land.  On November 2, 2023, the Defender Council secretly selected the State Public Defender, who coordinates the fair administration of criminal justice in Hawai`i by managing all public defenders.  Public First alleges that the secretive hiring process employed by these boards—conducting interviews, deliberations, and selection in closed sessions—violated the Sunshine Law as already interpreted by the Hawai`i Supreme Court.  In reviewing the work of these government boards, Public First also noticed other areas of serious concern that impact the public’s ability to understand how these boards operate.