On December 17, 2012, the Hawaii Supreme Court accepted cert in Daniel K. Kanahele et al. v. Maui County Council et al., No. SCWC-29649, involving the question of whether the Maui County Council violated Hawaii’s Sunshine Law (HRS ch. 92) at Council meetings of the Land Use Committee related to a residential development project.
When the project came before the Maui County Council on October 18, 2007, the Council recessed and reconvened the meeting twelve times without providing additional notice and opportunity to testify. The Council did the same two times at a meeting held on February 8, 2008. The Council also circulated an internal memo related to the project and reconsidered matters previously heard on the project. The circuit court found that there had been no Sunshine Law violations.
In its SDO, the ICA (Chief Judge Nakamura and Judge Fujise, with Judge Ginoza concurring separately) held that by reconvening the multiple recesses did not constitute “new” meeting thus requiring new notices and additional testimony (as argued by Kanahele). The ICA also held that the memo did not violate the Sunshine Law because the memo was not considered a “meeting” under the Law (as long as voting commitments were not sought).
On cert, Kanahele argues that the ICA’s decision improperly applied general rules of statutory construction, rather than those specifically reserved for the Sunshine Law thus defeating the purpose of the law. Kanahele also argues that the multiple continuances and written communications were improper.
The developer’s response argues that the ICA’s decision is consistent with the Sunshine Law, and that regardless each petitioner was given a full opportunity to attend and present testimony. The developer also counters that the memos were proper. Maui County’s response provides only a limited response to Kanahele’s substantive arguments on cert, essentially that all that is sought is an unavailable “second bite.”
The HAWSCT’s order accepting cert is available here.
The ICA’s SDO is available here.
Judge Ginoza’s concurring opinion is available here.
The cert application is available here.
The developer’s response is available here.
Maui County’s response is available here.