ACLU Rejects Union Demand for Release of Juvenile Facility Information
October 02, 2003
Honolulu - The ACLU of Hawai'i yesterday filed its response rejecting the United Public Workers' (UPW) demand for documents related to the investigation of the Hawai'i Youth Correctional Facility and guard abuse of juveniles. The ACLU argues the UPW's actions threaten the safety of the children incarcerated, violates the ACLU's First Amendment rights and infringes on its ability to represent individuals.
The Hawaii Labor Relations Board last week issued a subpoena at the request of the UPW to take the testimony of former ACLU legal director Brent White and compel the release of all documents relating to the ACLU's investigation.
The ACLU response, filed by attorneys Jeffrey Harris and Tamara Gerrard of Torkildson Katz Fonseca Moore and Hetherington, seeks to limit the scope of questioning of White and to prevent the production of documents that do not belong to White and are no longer in his possession.
"The safety of the juveniles who confided in us is our primary concern. The actions of the UPW only serve to put them in danger and further harass and oppress them, said executive director Vanessa Chong.
"The ACLU's First Amendment rights are also being threatened. We are a non-profit political advocacy organization that pursues litigation to further the goals of protecting individual freedoms guaranteed under the state and federal constitutions. Our mission would be severely hampered if communications with individuals who seek legal counsel for violations of their rights become subject to disclosure. Individuals would then be afraid of retaliation because of their contact with the ACLU".
The ACLU response also argues that the UPW has no right to any of the information. The identity of the children and the information they provided to White and his interns has nothing to do with the charge filed by UPW against the state. The UPW filed a prohibited practice charge alleging that the state violated its collective bargaining contract by allowing the ACLU access in to the facility.
The ACLU also argues that the information UPW wants is protected by the attorney-client privilege and the attorney work product doctrine. Both are core legal principles that shelter the activities of an attorney in order to prepare a client's case.
"The State permitted access only under the threat of litigation. The purpose of our interviews with the children was to assess their need for legal representation in anticipation of filing a lawsuit. During our investigation, several children reported instances of brutality by guards at HYCF. To our knowledge, those children remain under the control of the same guards they implicated in their statements to us and would be in grave danger if revealed," said Chong.
A hearing on the ACLU's response is scheduled for October 7 at 3:00 p.m. If the motion is denied, testimony from White is scheduled for October 8 before he leaves for teaching positions in Thailand and Japan.
To view the complete ACLU report and findings on HYCF, log onto its website at http://acluhawaii.org
The mission of the ACLU is to defend the civil liberties contained in the state and federal constitutions through advocacy in the courts, legislature and public forum. Its work on prisons arises out of the U.S. Constitution's Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
Motion to Revoke Subpoena
Complete ACLU Report of Findings and Recommendations pretaining to HYCF
ACLU Wants Reform of Youth Correctional Facility Calls Governor's New Appointment "Good First Step"
ACLU Calls Union Lawsuit to Stop HYCF Investigation of Guards Harassment
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