Tuesday, August 06, 2013


Busy day at the District Court today

by Larry Geller

I may have been (dis) invited to the (de) Occupy status conference this morning, but there were potentially other interesting and significant hearings underway during or after. I decided to skip in order to get some useful work done at home, but here are two cases from the calendar that were also interesting to me.

Judge J. Michael Seabright, now back in his 4th floor courtroom (with awesome koa wood paneling…), presided over the non-jury trial of The Justice Party and Kristine Kubat v. Scott T. Nago, in his official capacity as Chief Election Officer, State of Hawaii.

Later in the morning Judge Barry M. Kurren heard what I think is one of the most curious cases I’ve followed: Jerry Agbannaoag, et al. v. The Honorable Judges Of The Circuit Court Of The First Circuit, et al. The hearing was on the defendant’s motion to dismiss. Yup, the suit is against the whole bunch of state judges.

Justice Party v. Nago

Would you believe, voter suppression in Hawaii? Well, kind of. At issue is the ability to vote for a newly-qualifying party, including being able to sign a petition to put that party on the ballot. If the party can’t get on the ballot, you can’t vote for it, of course.

In rural Hawaii, many voters don’t have a residence address. Instead, they have a post office box. But the Office of Elections demands that they go down to the real property tax office to get a 13-digit identifier. If they show their post office box as their address, their signature on a petition is disqualified.

The main thrust of the suit concerns the petition deadline for newly-qualifying parties, currently February 23.

In 1986 the US District Court ruled that the then April deadline was too early and issued injunctive relief. But the Libertarian Party never followed through to obtain declaratory relief, and then the Legislature made the deadline even earlier.

Jerry Agbannaoag, et al. v. The Honorable Judges Of The Circuit Court Of The First Circuit, et al

I wrote about this case in May. Could you please click over to that article for an explanation of this strange case? See: All 32 Hawaii Circuit Court judges sued in Federal Court (5/2/2013).

A Hawaii family and a developer filed a federal class action against every Circuit Court judge in Hawaii, accusing them of using "ancient judge-made procedures" to enforce foreclosure judgments.

Jerry Agbannaoag, Ke Kailani Development et al. claim the judges' practice fostered the "flipping" of properties and unjustly enriched lenders.

[Courthouse News Service, Foreclosed Homeowners Sue 32 Hawaii Judges, 5/1/2013]

It gets more interesting. See the article. The 74-page complaint is attached.

Today’s action included this (snip):

Defendants' Motion to Dismiss held. Over Defendants' objection, the Court GRANTS Plaintiffs' oral request for supplemental briefing. Briefing is limited to ten pages. Plaintiffs' supplemental brief is due 8/20/2013. Defendants' response to the supplemental brief is due 9/3/2013. After the supplemental briefing is submitted, the Court will take this Motion under advisement and issue an order.

It would have been interesting to have sat in on this one—imagine, a lawsuit against judges, every Circuit Court one of them. Perhaps I’ll catch up with this at the next hearing.


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