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National Crime Victim Law Institute

NCVLI Celebrates Success in Efforts to Protect Victim Privacy

October 06, 2011

In June of 2011, a gunman in Hawaii shot and killed one person and wounded several others.  In the midst of the day’s horrors, the victims were able to dial 911 and seek help. In Oahu Publications, Inc. v. City and County of Honolulu, the media sued under Hawaii’s open records law seeking to receive copies of all of the 911 calls.  Fortunately, the City of Honolulu opposed the request.  With the assistance of local counsel Sheila Vierra, NCVLI filed an amicus brief, urging the court to deny the press’ request with respect to calls made by or about victims.  NCVLI argued that the victims’ state constitutional right to privacy outweighs the press’ public access interest, and the recordings are therefore exempt from disclosure.  The court agreed.  Last week, the court denied the press’ motion in part, holding that the recordings of the 911 calls made by or about the victims are exempt from disclosure!