Opinion Letter No. 03-18
November 12, 2003
Closed Investigation of Deputy Attorney General
Two individuals filed a complaint with the Attorney
General against an employee. They later requested a redacted copy
of the investigation conducted on the employee.
Under Part II of the UIPA, the employee who is the
subject of the investigation has a significant privacy interest
in “personnel” type information under section 92F-14(b)(4),
HRS, which outweighs any public interest in the record. Thus, under
Part II of the UIPA, the requesters are not entitled to a redacted
version of the investigation, and the Attorney General may withhold
it from public disclosure.
However, because the investigation refers to the employee
as well as one of the complainants, it is a joint personal record,
i.e., it is both the employee’s and the complainant’s
personal record. Under Part III of the UIPA, the complainant is
entitled to access information about him that is maintained by government.
This opinion sets forth an important policy with regard
to joint personal records. If a record
and/or information contains an individual’s name or other
identifying particular, there is a presumption that it is a personal
record entirely accessible to the requester (subject to the exemptions
in section 92F-22, HRS). However, this presumption can be rebutted
if it can be shown that certain information is not “about”
the requester, but is “about” someone else, and in the
interest of protecting personal privacy, it would be a violation
of Part II of the UIPA to disclose the other person’s information
to the requester.
Due to the unique circumstances in this case, segregation of the
investigation is warranted, insofar as it is reasonably segregable,
because disclosure to the complainant of the portions of the investigation
that pertain solely to the employee would be a clearly unwarranted
invasion of the employee’s privacy.