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Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court — No. SCWC-13-0001579

(Amended 02/23/17)

No. SCWC-13-0001579, Wednesday, April 19, 2017, 10 a.m.

IN THE MATTER OF BERNARD KUAMOO, Petitioner/Complainant-Employee/Appellant-Appellant, and STATE OF HAWAI I, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY (2010-122), Respondent/Respondent-Employer/Appellee-

Appellee, and STATE OF HAWAI I, MERIT APPEALS BOARD; COLLEEN R. MEYER; VALERIE B. PACHECO; ALVIN M. YOSHIMORI (MAB CASE No. 265), Respondents/Agency/Appellees-Appellees (CIVIL NO. 12-1-1624), et al.

The above-captioned case has been set for argument on the merits at:

Supreme Court Courtroom
Ali iolani Hale, 2nd Floor
417 South King Street
Honolulu, HI 96813

Attorneys for Petitioner:

Lowell K.Y. Chun-Hoon and Tatjana A. Johnson

Attorneys for Respondent State:

James E. Halvorson and Richard H. Thomason, Deputy Attorneys General Attorney for Respondents Agency-Appellees: John S. Mukai, Deputy Corporation Counsel

NOTE: Order accepting Application for Writ of Certiorari, filed 12/23/16.

NOTE: Order granting motion to postpone oral argument from 03/09/17 to 04/19/17 at 10:00 a.m., filed 02/23/17.


[ Listen to the entire audio recording in mp3 format ]

Brief Description:

Petitioners Bernard Kuamoo, Denise Gabriel, Arasi Mose, Kelii Lau, and Fafia Sataraka (collectively, Petitioners) each applied for promotion to supervisory positions while employed as Adult Corrections Officers by the Department of Public Safety. The Department deemed each of Petitioners unsuitable for promotion because they had previously been suspended for violating the Department’s Standards of Conduct. Petitioners individually challenged the denial of their promotions through administrative appeals to the Merit Appeals Board, who affirmed the Department’s decisions. Petitioners appealed to the Circuit Court of the First Circuit, who consolidated the appeals and affirmed the Merit Appeals Board. Petitioners appealed to the Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA), arguing that the Department’s previously undisclosed suspension policy violated the merit principle of civil service employment. The ICA affirmed the circuit court’s judgment.

This court accepted certiorari to consider the following question:

Did the Court of Appeals err as a matter of law when it affirmed the Circuit Court’s decision that the Department of Public Safety did not violate the merit principle in HRS § 76-1 by adopting an unwritten policy that precluded employees who had received suspensions within the last two years from consideration for promotion?