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Sunday, July 14, 2002



Lawyer demands data
on ceded land revenue

He asks whether the state and
OHA have reason to discriminate


By Pat Omandam
pomandam@starbulletin.com

Attorneys in a lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands returned to court again for some legal questions.

Plaintiffs attorney H. William Burgess asked state Magistrate Kevin Chang on Friday to approve a motion that compels OHA and DHHL to provide the plaintiffs with detailed information on ceded land revenue it receives from the state.

Burgess argued the information given to them was incomplete. He questioned whether the state had any compelling interest to discriminate against non-Hawaiians by allowing these programs to exist.

"What could be more relevant to an equal-protection claim is how the defendants spend taxpayer money," he said.

But Sherry Broder, OHA attorney, responded that the agency has given the plaintiffs all the information they asked for. Moreover, she argued, the state Legislature determines how much general fund and ceded land revenue OHA will receive, although the plaintiffs somehow believe there is more to it than that.

"I guess this is just a fundamental disagreement," she said.

Chang said OHA has been responsive in providing adequate details to their questions, and he denied the plaintiffs' motion.

A July 24 hearing on a motion to stop the operations of OHA and Hawaiian Homes was scrapped after Burgess and co-counsel Patrick Hanifin withdrew the motion last month. They said both sides were making progress in agreeing to facts to be used in the case and wanted more time to continue those talks.

Broder had said the withdrawal is significant because it shows the plaintiffs have now given up on trying for a quick ruling from the court. She believes a trial in the case is at least 18 months away.

"I am pleased that OHA will be able to get on with its business without the needless extra work required to prepare to defeat the motion for preliminary injunction," Broder said.



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