Bishop attorney claims
Roth calls the shots
McCorriston charges news mediaBy Jim Witty
'rushed to judgment'
The Bishop Estate's new attorney has charged Attorney General Margery Bronster with running her investigation at the behest of University of Hawaii law Professor Randy Roth.
The attorney, Bill McCorriston, also fired a volley at the news media, claiming it has "rushed to judgment."
"Who really is running this investigation?" McCorriston asked during a news conference at Bishop Estate headquarters yesterday. "Is it the attorney general or is it Professor Roth? All we hear of is Professor Roth wants to do this and the attorney general does it."
Not so, said Bronster.
"If that were true, you would have seen me taking action," Bronster said. Instead, she rejected the recommendation of Roth and his four "Broken Trust" co-authors to remove remove the five Bishop Estate trustees immediately and appoint a receiver to administer the $10 billion trust.
Roth said: "To my great disappointment, when I told (law school) colleagues about McCorriston's remarks, they just laughed. Those that know me the best have laughed the hardest. As flattered as I am by Bill's suggestion, it's just plain wrong."
Disputes stonewallingMcCorriston, who was tabbed recently by Bishop Estate to respond to subpoenas from the attorney general, said he was "absolutely" astounded when Bronster said the estate was stonewalling the investigation by seeking a protective order to quash a subpoena for past board minutes.
The Honolulu attorney said the trustees are within their rights to protect confidential or proprietary information and criticized Bronster for not abiding by probate court guidelines. "We had offered to produce a lot of the information the attorney general wanted if she would simply follow the very procedures that she helped to construct," he said. "She refused. She has stalled the progress of this investigation."
But Bronster said the probate court guidelines adopted to deal with the annual master's report on the estate in 1995 don't apply to the current investigation into allegations of mismanagement ordered by Gov. Ben Cayetano last month.
"You have to realize, there are probate court guidelines that deal with the review of the estate and that is one thing that is ongoing every year," Bronster said. "I think there is some confusion. We are issuing these subpoenas under our statutory rights to do an investigation ... It's really a separate issue."
And Bronster said Bishop Estate initially told her it would comply with forthcoming subpoenas but subsequently filed for a protective order. Thus the stonewalling charge. Bishop Estate officials have denied that assurance was given.
McCorriston also blasted the news media in general and the Star-Bulletin (which ran the "Broken Trust" piece that sparked the investigation) in particular, claiming the newspaper's editorials have been "grossly unfair" and have presented only one side of the story. Bishop Estate, however, has failed to offer its version of events, choosing instead to wait and present it in court, McCorriston acknowledged.
"Let's stop this rush to judgment," he said. "... We look forward to the day when we tell our side of the story. ... We can only conclude that those opponents of Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate are attempting to prejudice the probate court before the evidence comes out. We cannot stand still and play rope-a-dope while this plays out in the media."
Justified by factsJohn Flanagan, Star-Bulletin editor and publisher, said the newspaper has given Bishop Estate "every opportunity to respond," adding he believes that the paper's editorial stance is "justified by the facts."
"He has labeled us as opponents of Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate," said Flanagan. "That certainly is not true. Once again, the trustees are trying to identify themselves with the estate. Because we feel they should step down doesn't mean we are against the estate."
Flanagan added that the authors of "Broken Trust" have "solid gold credentials" and their opinions deserved to be aired.
Bishop Estate spokeswoman Elisa Yadao said McCorriston represents the estate, not the individual trustees, and is being paid by the estate.
Roth said: "It's totally improper for the estate to pay a high-priced attorney to defend the trustees against allegations directly solely against them. Nobody has suggested that the estate has done anything wrong."
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