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Friday, February 25, 2000

Trust need not pay
state attorney fees

By Rick Daysog


A state judge today denied the attorney general's request for $284,000 in attorney fees stemming from the removal of former Kamehameha Schools trustee Lokelani Lindsey.

But Probate Judge Kevin Chang granted the state's request for $45,701 in expenses arising from the case.

Chang noted that state law does not require Kamehameha Schools to pay legal fees to the attorney general for their efforts supporting the lawsuit of former trustees Oswald Stender and Gerard Jervis to remove Lindsey.

Lindsey was removed by Circuit Judge Eden Elizabeth Hifo, formerly known as Bambi Weil, on May 6 after a five-month trial.

Bruce Graham, an attorney for the estate, opposed the attorney general's fee petition, saying state attorneys should not be paid with trust money for doing their job as public officials.

"If the interests of the trust was their concern as public servants, they should take the expenses that the statute allows and leave their fees for the children of Kamehameha," he said.

Deputy Attorney General Dorothy Sellers argued that the state was entitled to legal fees since previous judges had awarded legal fees to state attorneys for their work relating to the Kamehameha Schools.

Sellers said the state must now seek to surcharge former trustees Lindsey, Richard "Dickie" Wong and Henry Peters for the remaining $284,000 in legal fees. The surcharge suit is scheduled to go to trial in September.

All five members of the estate's former board have since resigned.

In a related matter, Judge Chang denied Wong's request to file an appeal to the state Supreme Court of Probate Judge Colleen Hirai's order removing Wong on an interim basis. Wong's attorney, David Suzuki, said Wong would like to contest Hirai's findings since the state is relying on those findings in its suit to surcharge Wong.

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