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Oral Arguments before the Intermediate Court of Appeals

No. 30110 – Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 9 a.m.

RICHARD NELSON III, KALIKO CHUN, JAMES AKIONA, SR., SHERILYN ADAMS, KELII IOANE, JR., and CHARLES AIPIA, Plaintiffs-Appellants, vs. HAWAIIAN HOMES COMMISSION, THE DEPARTMENT OF HAWAIIAN HOME LANDS, MICAH KANE, in his official capacity as Chair of the Hawaiian Homes Commission, PERRY ARTATES, BILLIE BACLIG, DONALD S. M. CHANG, STUART HANCHETT, MALIA KAMAKA, FRANCIS LUM, TRISH MORIKAWA, and MILTON PA, in their official capacities as members of the Hawaiian Homes Commission, GEORGINA KAWAMURA, in her official capacity as the State Director of Finance, and the STATE OF HAWAIʻI, Defendants-Appellees.

Attorney(s) for Plaintiffs-Appellants
David Kimo Frankel and Alan T. Murakami

Attorney(s) for Defendants-Appellees, Hawaiian Homes Commission, The Dep’t of Hawaiian Home Lands,Micah Kane, Et al.
Brian A. Kang and Emi L.M. Kaimuloa (Watanabe Ing LLP)

Attorney(s) for Defendants-Appellees, State of Hawaiʻi and Georgina Kawamura
Honorable Mark J. Bennett, Attorney General and Girard D. Lau, Robyn B. Chun and Charleen M. Aina, Deputy Attorneys General

COURT:    Nakamura, CJ; Foley and Fujise, JJ.

SPECIAL NOTE:    The above argument will take place in the Supreme Court courtroom on the Second Floor of Aliʻiolani Hale, 417 South King Street, Honolulu, Hawaii.

[ Listen to the entire audio recording in mp3 format ]

Brief description:

Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief in the Circuit Court of the First Circuit (circuit court), claiming that Defendants are obligated by Article XII, §§ 1 and 2 of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, 1920, (HHCA) to provide particular levels of funding to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) sufficient to enable the DHHL “to award all qualified applicants for homesteads trust land within ten years of applying” and that the State of Hawaii failed in the past to provide sufficient funds to DHHL.

Section 1 of the HHCA provides in part:
The legislature shall make sufficient sums available for the following purposes:  (1) development of home, agriculture, farm and ranch lots; (2) home, agriculture, aquaculture, farm and ranch loans; (3) rehabilitation projects to include, but not limited to, educational, economic, political, social and cultural processes by which the general welfare and conditions of native Hawaiians are thereby improved; (4) the administration and operating budget of the department of Hawaiian home lands; in furtherance of (1), (2), (3), and (4) herein, by appropriating the same in the manner provided by law.

(Emphasis added.)

Plaintiffs contend the circuit court erred in granting summary judgment and concluding that the political question doctrine bars judiciability of Plaintiffs’ claims.  The circuit court concluded:

There are no judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving the dispute over the definition and determination of “sufficient sums” under Article XII, Sections 1 & 2, of the Constitution of the State of Hawaii without making initial policy determinations of a kind clearly for nonjudicial discretion.