Tuesday, May 01, 2012


Courthouse News Service posts details of incident resulting in $100,000 settlement, but that should not be the last word

by Larry Geller

A Courthouse News article posted today details the charges of assault filed by Mitchell Kahle and Kevin Hughes which resulted in a $100,000 settlement now awaiting legislative approval.

In the context of describing the case, reporter Purna Nemani has provided the best description of the assault as described and alleged by Kahle and Huges that I have seen in print. There is also a video that has been widely viewed—see the end of this article.

I think anyone reading the article will understand why some of us familiar with the incident felt intimidated when the same Sergeant at Arms was present inside the committee room at Senator Baker’s hearing on confirmation of the Governor’s appointees to the Hawaii Health Connector. Perhaps Senator Baker felt comforted by his presence, but some of us did not. We should question why he was brought in (I assume he doesn’t attend many hearings on his own). If called by Senator Baker, then she might have pre-meditated denying community testimony and wanted protection against a backlash.

I can only quote a bit of the article, it is copyrighted material. Please click the link below to read the entire article on the Courthouse News Service website.

Kahle and Hughes called the "scuffle" a "gang-style attack" that landed Hughes in the emergency room. Kahle says he was also subjected to an unprovoked assault behind closed doors.

Villaflor, the sergeant at arms, is described as a former professional fighter and World Boxing Association champion. He allegedly beat Kahle with help from defendants Carabbacan, Naauao, Doyles Arakaki, Daniel Kwon, Raymond Schwartz and Betty Muraki.

Before the attack, "Kahle had not committed any violation of law and sheriff deputies did not have probable cause to arrest [him] for any crime," according to the complaint. But Kahle says the officers took him in handcuffs into a rotunda elevator, where they "slammed Kahle, face first, against the side wall of the elevator," and "took turns assaulting [him] ... giving him body blows."

When the elevator door opened, Kahle says, he was taken "down the hallway to a Public Safety Office, located in the basement (chamber level) of the Capitol." (Parentheses in original.) He says the assault resumed there, with officers "slamming Kahle to the floor so hard that he spun around and crashed into a cabinet, breaking the cabinet door."

[Courthouse News Service, State Wants to Settle With Religious Objector, 5/1/2012]

I have been repeatedly impressed with the articles posted by Courthouse News Service about Hawaii cases, and in particular by the work of this reporter.

After reading this account, my impression is that the state is getting a bargain with a $100,000 settlement. The Legislature should hurry up and approve this.

Unfortunately, it isn’t known what disciplinary action, if any, has or will be taken against the alleged perpetrators. The Senate doesn’t enforce its own rules and seems to have an unfortunate tolerance even for potential law-breaking by its own members (e.g., filing of false financial reports). So what can we expect? We can expect that nothing will be done.

The only ones punished are taxpayers, who must cough up the expense of settlements against the state.

That’s not a particular Hawaii problem. States and municipalities across the country seem willing, for example, to allow police to act brutally and unconstitutionally and then settle with the victims later, as a cost of doing business. Although the news doesn’t get into our daily paper, police law-breaking has become standard operating practice against Occupy demonstrators, for example.

I no longer refer to police officers as “law enforcement” because of this—they are often armed as though they were military and have little respect for laws or civil rights. There is seldom accountability for this law-breaking.

The defendants in the Kahle-Hughes suit were, and presumably still are, state employees. We should be able to know how the state is dealing with responsibility for the incident. Payment of the $100,000 settlement doesn’t close the matter without accountability and public disclosure.

If the Senate does nothing, then it is enabling whatever illegal activities or misconduct may have taken place, and it shares in the responsibility. Of course, the Legislature should approve the settlement. But it needs to go further. Let me say also that giving away environmental exemptions that may be challenged in court (and result in legal fees to be paid by—who else—we taxpayers) is part of the problem. Lawmakers ought to have some basic respect for the law themselves.

Click the thingy in the lower-right for full-screen.


Let's hear another side to this story, a side that has "disappeared." I think Kahle should learn how to voice his opinions without interrupting a clergy person or anyone who was invited to provide some words of encouragement. There's no aloha in what Kahle did and his problem is that he wants attention so bad that he'll do whatever he can at the expense of an innocent guest. Come on Hawaii, stand up and don't let Kahle-like people act up and ruin this place.

Anonymous, I'm not sure what you mean. The Legislature gave up opening prayes, they agreed that they are unconstitutional. And there is no other side to being assaulted as described.

Anonymous #1, what part of "unconstitutional" do you not understand? If you are an American who believes in the constitution you should be defending this man; instead, the officers idiocy just cost US a hundred grand. The officers broke the law, not this guy - and now we all must pay.

HB2751 is the bill that this cry baby Sargent at Arms coaxed his legislative dummies into writing for him.
4/30 it was passed to the governor.

To anonymous on here, seems like you might be a little biased?

Wow. The problem appeared to be diffused and the gentleman who was objecting was removed.
The video absolutely shows that these people at the capitol got out of control and were going for blood...right after all of them stuck their noses high up in the air with all the hypocritical self righteousness of holier than thou disciples of Christ.
To watch them in their failed attempt at reverence in prayer hurt deeply.

Hi Larry, thanks for the article, in response to your comment, I thought that the "prayers" (if you could call it that) ended in the Senate chambers after this incident ? Well, that's my recollection, my main point was that I feel bad for the person who was invited to give the invocation...not much was said on how this inappropriate outburst has affected the invitee.

Also in response to the "unconstitutional" comment, I don't think my comment said anything about defending the officers. Let us all read carefully, calmly and keep our emotions in check...applies to me too.

All I wanted to communicate was whether this was the right way to voice his opinion and where is the Aloha that makes Hawaii so unique.....let's not lose this otherwise we have nothing. Thank you all.

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