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Tuesday, May 23, 2000

State seeks
greater access to
trust’s records

The attorney general is asking
for legal opinions by the outside
attorneys for Kamehameha

By Rick Daysog


The attorney general's office is requesting legal opinions by the Kamehameha Schools' outside lawyers in wake of a scathing report by a court-appointed special master about the attorneys' role in the three-year trust controversy.

In a 38-page filing in state Probate Court yesterday, Deputy Attorney General Hugh Jones said that access to the records had been protected as attorney-client privileged material.

The filing said the information is necessary in order for the state to conduct its proper role in overseeing the charitable trust's operations.

If the attorney general's office were aware of such opinions when they were issued, it would have been able to report abuses and breaches of trust by the estate's embattled former trustees when they occurred, he said.

"The sorry events of the recent past were the product of a curtain of secrecy concerning the administration of what is a public charitable trust," Jones said.

A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Friday.

According to Jones, the state is entitled to the records under a 1997 court order that allows it and the trust's court-appointed master to review all legal opinions prepared by or paid for by the trust.

But during the three-year trust controversy, the estate's former trustees "funneled virtually everything" through the estate's former general counsel Nathan Aipa in order to protect the records as privileged, said Jones.

For instance, former majority trustees Henry Peters, Richard "Dickie" Wong and Lokelani Lindsey relied on the privilege claim to shield records that the former board members accumulated over $300 million in trust money that should have been spent on the Kamehameha Schools, Jones said.

The attorney general's filing comes after special master Robert Richards issued a critical report last Thursday alleging some of the estate's outside law firms represented the individual interests of the majority trustees at the expense of the trust.

Richards -- who recommended that the former trustees Peters, Wong, Lindsey, Gerard Jervis and Oswald Stender be surcharged about $5 million for the legal work -- also said that two firms, McCorriston Miho Miller Mukai and Cades Schutte Fleming & Wright, were part of an effort to intimidate critics of the former majority trustees.

The law firms -- who were suspended on Friday pending an investigation by the estate's interim board of trustees -- denied the charges, saying their work was entirely appropriate and benefited the trust. A trust spokesman could not be reached for comment.

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