Isle ACLU fights
to keep sources private

The group objects to UPW
efforts to get answers about
a prison investigation

The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii says the state does not have the authority to force its former legal director to answer questions about the sources for his investigation into alleged abuses by guards at the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility.

The ACLU filed an objection yesterday with the state Labor Relations Board to a United Public Workers request that the former legal director, Brent White, reappear before the board to answer questions.

Last week, White declined to reveal his sources, saying they were inmates who feared retribution from guards.

UPW represents the guards.

On Friday, UPW attorney Herbert Takahashi filed a motion to compel White to return to the board to answer. White left Hawaii on Friday to start a teaching job in Thailand.

Attorneys for White and the ACLU argued that the board cannot force him to reappear without a court order.

And, they noted, a court order would "serve no purpose other than retaliating against Mr. White and the ACLU for their efforts to improve conditions at the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility."

Takahashi had argued the guards have a constitutional right to confront their accusers and refute their charges.

UPW's complaint argues that the state should not have authorized the ACLU's investigation of the guards for alleged criminal and administrative misconduct.

White and four paralegals interviewed 70 inmates, and the ACLU submitted a written report to the state in August alleging sexual and physical abuse by guards against inmates, overcrowded and unsanitary conditions.

The ACLU had the permission of the state Attorney General's Office to conduct the investigation.

After the ACLU report, Gov. Linda Lingle replaced management at the facility and the Attorney General's Office began its own investigation into conditions at the Kailua facility.

ACLU attorneys argued in their filing that forcing White to answer would violate public policy requiring informants be protected, as well as the ACLU's constitutional right to litigate to protect individual rights.

They also argued the information UPW seeks is protected by the attorney-client privilege.

Takahashi could not be reached for comment.


E-mail to City Desk


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2003 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --