The Hawaii Supreme Court has ruled on the Sunshine Law for the first time in 20 years.

The court found that Maui County Council violated the state’s open meetings law by circulating memos asking for favorable consideration of various amendments to bills related to a 670-acre development in Wailea. 

The court’s 80-page decision on the 2008 case underscores that all government boards are bound by the spirit of the Sunshine Law. 

The court allowed the council’s decisions on the bills to stand, but sent the case back to circuit court to award attorney fees. Lance Collins represented the petitioners, Maui residents Daniel Kanahele, Warren Blum, Lisa Buchanan, James Conniff and Cambria Moss

The state Office of Information Practices summarized the decision in a release Monday, noting the high court favorably citing seven OIP opinions. OIP says it will continue to study the decision and provide advice comporting with the court’s ruling. 

Read the court’s decision on OIP’s website here.

Nathan Eagle

Photo: Grand Wailea sunset in Kihei, Maui. (Anthony Crider via Flickr)