92-12 Enforcement. (a) The attorney general and the prosecuting attorney shall enforce this part.

(b) The circuit courts of the State shall have jurisdiction to enforce the provisions of this part by injunction or other appropriate remedy.

(c) Any person may commence a suit in the circuit court of the circuit in which a prohibited act occurs for the purpose of requiring compliance with or preventing violations of this part or to determine the applicability of this part to discussions or decisions of the public body. The court may order payment of reasonable attorney's fees and costs to the prevailing party in a suit brought under this section.

(d) Opinions and rulings of the office of information practices shall be admissible in an action brought under this part and shall be considered as precedent unless found to be palpably erroneous.

(e) The proceedings for review shall not stay the enforcement of any agency decisions; but the reviewing court may order a stay if the following criteria have been met:

(1) There is likelihood that the party bringing the action will prevail on the merits;

(2) Irreparable damage will result if a stay is not ordered;

(3) No irreparable damage to the public will result from the stay order; and

(4) Public interest will be served by the stay order. [L 1975, c 166, pt of 1; am L 1985, c 278, 5; am L 2012, c 176, 3]

 

Law Journals and Reviews

 

2013 Law and Administrative Rules Governing Appeal Procedures of Hawaii's Office of Information Practices. 36 UH L. Rev. 271 (2014).

 

Case Notes

 

Entitles "any person" to "commence a suit in the circuit court of the circuit in which a prohibited act occurs", regardless of the person's participation in any proceeding. 74 H. 365, 846 P.2d 882.

Award of attorneys' fees under subsection (c) intended to apply where citizen prevails against government; prevailing defendant private party thus not entitled to attorneys' fees under this subsection. 86 H. 132, 948 P.2d 122.

Plaintiffs, as a "private attorney general", had standing pursuant to subsection (c) to present case to determine the applicability of the sunshine law to defendants' conduct--where five or more city council members participated in a series of private one-on-one conversations regarding, among other matters, the proposed reorganization of the council's standing committees--and to seek a declaration that it violated the sunshine law. 117 H. 1 (App.), 175 P.3d 111.

Trial court did not err in hearing plaintiffs' suit as to the allegations that defendants' conduct relating to a council resolution violated the sunshine law where exceptions to the mootness doctrine applied to the case, including the public interest exception when the question involved affects the public interest and is likely that similar questions arising in the future would likewise become moot before a needed authoritative determination by an appellate court, and the exception when the case is capable of repetition, yet evades review. 117 H. 1 (App.), 175 P.3d 111.

Where plaintiffs prevailed on some, but not all, of their claims, but plaintiffs' claims for relief involved a common core of facts and were based on related legal theories, and much of counsel's time was devoted generally to litigation as a whole, making it difficult to divide the hours expended on a claim-by-claim basis, trial court should not have reduced the plaintiffs' attorney's fees request by seventy-five per cent; plaintiffs were thus entitled to full attorney's fees pursuant to subsection (c). 117 H. 1 (App.), 175 P.3d 111.

As this chapter governs board meetings and board meeting minutes, including those of executive sessions, and this section, by its plain language, permits "any person", including the county, to bring suit in circuit court "to determine the applicability of part I of this chapter to the discussions or decisions" of the council, the circuit court did not err in determining it had jurisdiction pursuant to this chapter to determine whether county council's executive session minutes had to be disclosed. 120 H. 34 (App.), 200 P.3d 403.

 

 

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