Bishop legal team
McCorriston says rumorsBy Mike Yuen
that the estate has hired
several law firms are false
Bishop Estate attorney William McCorriston says Gov. Ben Cayetano was wrong in asserting that the five trustees for the $10 billion charitable trust are improperly using trust funds for legal representation during a state investigation.
Cayetano was also incorrect when he repeated a rumor that the estate was bracing for the inquiry by bolstering its "legal armament" by hiring five to seven law firms, including several from the mainland, McCorriston said yesterday.
There are only two outside lawyers - himself and Malcolm Moore, 60, who is regarded as one of the nation's leading trust law experts, McCorriston said.
The Princeton-and Harvard-educated Moore, a former president of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, is with the Seattle law firm of Davis Wright Tremaine, whose 10 branch offices include Honolulu, San Francisco, Washington and Shanghai.
Responding to CayetanoMcCorriston's rebuttal came less than two hours after Cayetano, in response to reporters' questions, commented on the state's investigation into the estate.
"Unfortunately, the governor was not aware of all the facts before he made a judgment. The fact of the matter is that the trustees, on my advice, have retained individual counsel on matters pertaining to the investigation that could lead to personal liability," said McCorriston, who began representing the estate last month.
The trustees will be paying for their personal counsel - not the estate, said McCorriston.
Trustee Gerard Jervis said his attorney, Ronald Sakamoto, 46, a partner in the Honolulu law firm of Char Sakamoto Ishii Lum & Ching, will represent him.
Jervis said he was confident there will be no finding that he breached his fiduciary responsibilities. "I welcome the inquiries," he said, referring to the investigation headed by state Attorney General Margery Bronster and the fact-finding inquiry by retired state Circuit Judge Patrick Yim.
Trustee Oswald Stender is represented by attorney Crystal Rose, 39, a partner in the Honolulu law firm of Bays Deaver Hiatt Lung & Rose. Rose accompanied Stender when he met with Bronster last month.
Trustees Richard "Dickie" Wong, Henry Peters and Lokelani Lindsey could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Individuals investigatedMcCorriston declined to reveal who are the personal attorneys for Wong, Peters and Lindsey. He also declined to say when trustees retained personal attorneys and when the estate hired Moore.
McCorriston said he and Moore are representing the institutional interests of the Bishop Estate, while the trustees have their own lawyers because "it's hard now to ascertain what the attorney general's investigation consists of."
It is when Bronster's investigation becomes more focused that he, Moore and the trustees' personal attorneys will know who has to respond, McCorriston said.
"Until there are specific allegations, it's like shadow boxing," he added.
Cynthia Quinn, Bronster's special assistant, said McCorriston should by now know where the state inquiry is headed. "It's abundantly clear" that Bronster is investigating individual trustees - not the estate, Quinn said.
And if it becomes clear that McCorriston's role, for example, is more in the interest of the trustees than the Bishop Estate, the state will ask the court that trust funds not be used to pay McCorriston, Quinn said.
'Resistance is a mistake'Cayetano, who had urged reporters to ask estate representatives if they were amassing a large and formidable legal team, did at the same time say, "If I am wrong, I apologize."
But he also asserted that "resistance to us looking into (Bishop Estate) documents is a mistake."
Cayetano added: "If you want to just get this thing over with, it's not hard to separate the interest of the trustees from the estate. If what we want is information which may substantiate that trust money was used to repair someone's home, how is that hurting the estate by giving us that information? In fact, it helps protect the estate from further misuse of money - if, in fact, it was misused."
The "Broken Trust" opinion piece that appeared Aug. 9 in the Star-Bulletin, sparked the state's investigation. One of the questions it raised: Did trustee Lindsey use Bishop Estate workers "to survey her North Shore property, process her permits and supervise the rebuilding of her house"?
Cayetano said even with 1998 an election year, the investigation won't go away.
Bishop Estate Archive
Reporters objectBy Gordon Pang
Kamehameha Schools Bishop Estate will have to go to court if it wants the notes and documents of three reporters who have written on the estate.
Attorneys for the reporters are objecting to subpoenas served by Bishop Estate two weeks ago.
Paul Alston, who is representing reporters Jim Dooley of KITV News4 and Sally Apgar of the Honolulu Advertiser, yesterday filed formal objections in Circuit Court.
Both he and Corey Park, attorney for Associated Press reporter Bruce Dunford, have sent letters to the estate refusing to release any documents.
Bishop Estate alleges that information obtained by the reporters came from Bobby Harmon, an executive who was fired by the estate.
Harmon, who served as president and chief executive for Bishop subsidiary P&C Insurance Co., was sued by the estate to stop him from releasing information he gathered or learned while still in its employment.
The estate says Harmon stole documents from its offices.
Harmon countersued, claiming wrongful termination.
Alston said the subpoenas served to his clients were improperly issued and violate the First Amendment.
He added that Harmon never claimed to have given reporters anything more than a synopsis of information which he wrote.
Park said it didn't matter even if Harmon had given his client documents that were stolen.
"The press in this case was not a party to any kind of alleged improper activity in obtaining the information."
The estate must now ask a judge to intercede if it wants the documents.
Estate spokeswoman Elisa Yadao would not say if the estate would go to court to seek the documents.
"We are going to do what is appropriate and prudent in our attempts to get the information back," she said.
Bishop Estate Archive