Oral Arguments before the Hawaii Supreme Court

No. 30049 - Thursday, August 5, 2010 at 9 a.m.

T.A. NO. 07-0086  In the Matter of the Tax Appeal of JOHN M. CORBOY and STEPHEN GARO AGHJAYAN, Petitioners/Plaintiffs-Appellants, vs. MARK J. BENNETT, in his official capacity as Attorney General, State of Hawaii; the COUNTY OF MAUI, and the COUNTY OF KAUAI, Respondents/Defendants-Appellees.

T.A. NO. 07-0099  GARRY P. SMITH and EARL F. ARAKAKI, Petitioners/Plaintiffs-Appellants, vs. MARK J. BENNETT, in his official capacity as Attorney General, State of Hawaii; and the CITY AND COUNTY OF HONOLULU, Respondents/Defendants-Appellees.

T.A. NO. 07-0102  J. WILLLIAM SANBORN, Petitioner/Plaintiff-Appellant, vs. MARK J. BENNETT, in his official capacity as Attorney General, State of Hawaii; and the COUNTY OF HAWAII, Respondents/Defendants-Appellees.

T.A. NO. 08-0039  In the Matter of the Tax Appeal of STEPHEN GARO AGHJAYAN, Petitioner/Plaintiff-Appellant, and STATE OF HAWAII, Respondent/Intervenor/Defendant-Appellee.

T.A. NO. 08-0040  In the Matter of the Tax Appeal of JOHN M. CORBOY, Petitioner/Plaintiff-Appellant, and STATE OF HAWAII, Respondent/Intervenor/Defendant-Appellee.

T.A. NO. 08-0041  In the Matter of the Tax Appeal of GARRY P. SMITH, Petitioner/Plaintiff-Appellant, and STATE OF HAWAII, Respondent/Intervenor/Defendant-Appellee.

T.A. NO. 08-0042  In the Matter of the Tax Appeal of WILLIAM J. SANBORN, Petitioner/Plaintiff-Appellant, and STATE OF HAWAII, Respondent/Intervenor/Defendant-Appellee.

T.A. NO. 08-0043  In the Matter of the Tax Appeal of EARL F. ARAKAKI, Petitioner/Plaintiff-Appellant, and STATE OF HAWAII, Respondent/Intervenor/Defendant-Appellee.

Attorney(s) for Petitioners/Plaintiffs-Appellants
H. William Burgess

Attorney(s) for Respondent/Intervenor/Defendant-Appellee
Honorable Mark J. Bennett, Attorney General, and Girard D. Lau and Charleen M. Aina, Deputy Attorneys General

Attorney(s) for Respondents/Defendants-Appellees
Honorable Lincoln S.T. Ashida, Corporation Counsel, and Craig T. Masuda, Deputy Corporation Counsel, County of Hawaii
               
Attorney(s) for Respondents/Defendants-Appellees
Alfred B. Castillo, Jr. and Jennifer S. Winn, County Attorneys, County of Kauai

Attorney(s) for Respondents/Defendants-Appellees
Honorable Carrie S. Okinaga, Corporation Counsel, and Lee M. Agsalud , Deputy Corporation Counsel, City & County of Honolulu

Attorney(s) for Respondents/Defendants-Appellees
Honorable Brian T. Moto, Corporation Counsel, and Richard B. Rost, Deputy Corporation Counsel, County of Maui

NOTE: Certificate of Recusal by Chief Justice Ronald T.Y. Moon, filed 5/4/2010.

NOTE: Order assigning Judge Rhonda Nishimura in place of Moon, CJ; recused, filed 5/6/2010.

NOTE: Order accepting Application for Transfer, filed 12/29/09.

COURT: PAN, Acting CJ; SRA, JED & MER, JJ., and Judge Rhonda Nishimura in place of Chief Justice Moon, recused.

[ Listen to the entire audio recording in mp3 format ]

Brief description:
Plaintiffs-Appellants John M. Corboy, Stephen Garo Aghjayan, Gary P. Smith, Earl F. Arakaki, and J. William Sanborn (hereinafter collectively “Taxpayers”) appeal from the Land and Tax Appeal Court’s judgment in favor of defendants Mark J. Bennett, in his official capacity as Attorney General, State of Hawaii, the County of Maui, the County of Kauai, the City and County of Honolulu, the County of Hawaii, and the State of Hawaii (hereinafter collectively “State”).  Upon application by Taxpayers, the case was transferred to this court, pursuant to Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) § 602-58(b)(1) (Supp. 2009).

On appeal, Taxpayers argue that (1) the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act (HHCA) violates the equal protection clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and the fiduciary duty of the United States as trustee of the Ceded Lands Trust; (2) the United States violated the fifth amendment to the United States Constitution, its fiduciary duty as trustee of the Ceded Lands Trust, and the equal footing doctrine by requiring that the State adopt the HHCA as a condition of statehood; (3) the State, by adopting and implementing the HHCA, violates the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, federal civil rights laws, and the State’s fiduciary duty as Trustee of the Ceded Lands Trust; (4) each of the counties, by denying Taxpayers a real property exemption equal to that given to Hawaiian homestead lessees, violate the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, the laws of the United States, and the counties’ fiduciary duties as trustees of the Ceded Lands Trust; and (5) the Land and Tax Appeal Court erred in granting the State’s motion for summary judgment and in denying Taxpayers’ counter-motion for summary judgment.

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