Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Hearing on sanctions against city for Occupy raid scheduled for Thursday, January 17
by Larry Geller
Update: please see comments for outcome.
An evidentiary hearing before Judge J. Michael Seabright is scheduled for tomorrow (Thursday, 1/17/2013) at 9:00 at the federal courthouse in Honolulu.
At issue is a motion for sanctions and/or a temporary restraining order against the City and County of Honolulu for violating its own ordinances and a stipulated court order intended to protect Honolulu occupiers from having their property illegally seized and trashed.
Both sides have submitted lists of witnesses and numerous depositions. By tomorrow, Judge Seabright will have read all of the briefs and will also have viewed, in chambers, a video submitted by the Occupy plaintiffs.
Anyone wishing to attend should allow some time to clear security, and then proceed to Courtroom 8 rather than Judge Seabright’s usual courtroom, which is still under renovation.
“A City Worker opened, entered, and rummaged through the property of the blue tent without attempting to identify the owner and without providing anyone the opportunity to claim the items within the blue tent.”
From the plaintiff’s motion:
1. On December 20, 2012, Defendant City conducted a raid at Thomas Square.
2. Although the conduct of the City employees was much less egregious than was the custom and/or policy before the filing of this lawsuit, the City nevertheless materially breached the terms of the agreement.
3. Specifically, the City: seized “untagged” items; rummaged through and seized personal property within tagged tents without any meaningful attempt to identify the owner of the tent and without permitting the owner to remove their personal property from the tent; failed to exercise due care to prevent destruction or harm to seized property; failed to store seized items in numbered bins and/or failed to identify the bin number on post-seizure notices; and, now, refuses to immediately return seized property to the property owner despite the property owners’ attempts to present the City with the appropriate post-seizure notices.
See also earlier article: (de)Occupy asks federal court to enforce agreement and to impose sanctions for city conduct during Thursday raid (12/21/2012).
The judge declined to impose sanctions. However, it was clear that the city did not put in place procedures to carry out its agreement with plaintiffs that was endorsed as an order of the court. In particular, when one of the plaintiffs called to retrieve his property, the person in charge, Mr. Sato was not in, nor did he return the call as was promised. Even had he done so, the next step would be to make an appointment, and when the claimant shows up, he is required to show a picture ID. This is not what was agreed. So the judge ordered the parties to revise the agreement by Jan 28, or else he said he would assign a magistrate judge to help work out the differences. Judge Seabright said that other matters would be rolled into the hearing for preliminary injunction (set for March 11).