By Ken Sakamoto, Star-Bulletin
Bishop Estate trustees Gerard Jervis, left, and
Oswald Stender talk to the media yesterday.

Trustee rift
will get hearing

Jervis and Stender accuse the other
three of withholding information

By Gordon Pang and Gregg K. Kakesako

Charges by Bishop Estate trustees Gerard Jervis and Oswald Stender against three fellow trustees -- that they are withholding information and making decisions without them -- will be considered at a hearing Jan. 9.

Jervis joined Stender yesterday in making the accusations against trustees Chairman Richard "Dickie" Wong, Lokelani Lindsey and Henry Peters.

Jervis, who had been aligned with the other three trustees, and Stender are seeking interpretation of trust rules from Probate Judge Colleen Hirai.

"Certain trustees have failed and/or refused to provide all trustees with all relevant information related to investments, education, and other matters essential to the just and efficient administration of the estate," said Stender and Jervis in a petition for instructions filed through their attorneys yesterday.

Decisions are made by "informally polling certain trustees to obtain three votes in support of an action proposed by one or more trustees," the petition states.

Wong responded in a written statement: "As chairman of the board of Kamehameha Schools Bishop Estate, I can say emphatically that no trustee has ever been denied information to make informed decisions."

In addition, he said, "There is no 'practice' of 'informally polling' trustees prior to a vote. All business of the trustees, since I've been the chairman, has been conducted by a consensus of all trustees."

Critics of the estate's management believe Stender and Jervis' allegations could lead to the dismissal of estate attorney Bill McCorriston from cases involving charges of mismanagement of the trust. The accusations may also, they say, constitute grounds for removal of trustees Wong, Lindsey and Peters.

Critics noted that yesterday's moves were significant because they marked the first time that Stender did not stand alone in making crucial accusations against colleagues.

Beadie Dawson, attorney for Na Pua a Ke Ali'i Pauahi -- an organization of more than 2,000 Kamehameha students, parents and alumni, said the ideas presented by Jervis in his speech were commendable.

"I would like to see what actions will follow," said Dawson, who was in the audience when Jervis spoke.

The petition filed by Jervis and Stender says that attorneys hired ostensibly to represent the estate are instead taking instructions from only specific trustees and have refused to discuss matters with the pair.

Jervis told reporters the problems "have been going on for a while."

"It's become more noticeable since the handling of the investigation by the attorney general," Stender said. "The seriousness of it all has been recent."

Dawson said the probate court should remove McCorriston because it's "inexcusable" that he is only representing three of the five trustees."

Dawson said McCorriston has further damaged Bishop Estate's public image of being "very secretive and arrogant."

"With McCorriston it is now one of being aggressively arrogant."

Wong recalled that on only one recent occasion, a decision on a legal response to a temporary restraining order was made by three trustees because the two others were unavailable. The two were later informed and the decision was not questioned, he said.

"We're at a loss as to what trustees Stender and Jervis are attempting to do," said William Harrison, Lindsey's attorney. "All of the attorneys have been working diligently to develop the proper methodology for dealing with this unique and complex situation. Their surprise unilateral filing reflects a clear lack of consideration for the trust."

KSBE spokeswoman Elisa Yadao yesterday afternoon said the estate has the petition "under review."

Neither McCorriston nor Peters could be reached for comment.

Copies of the petition were handed to reporters after a speech by Jervis before the Rotary Club of Honolulu. Stender also attended the meeting and the two spoke to journalists briefly after the meeting.

Also attending Jervis' speech was University of Hawaii law professor Randall Roth.

"Refusing to follow instructions coming from one or more of the trustees is an extremely serious situation, especially when that lawyer purports to be representing the interests of the beneficiaries," Roth said.

If the charges are proved, "I would assume the court would remove Mr. McCorriston from the case and I would expect the court to appoint someone to truly represent the interests of the beneficiaries," he said.

Roth said yesterday's allegations by Jervis and Stender, in addition to previous charges, "should result in the removal of some trustees, if, again, (they are) proved to be accurate."

Dawson added: "Many of us were encouraged from what we heard from Gerard. We recognize he is protecting himself by aligning himself with the one trustee that the public finds acceptable ... and it looks like things are changing and everything will be all right and the others will come on board and it will be business as usual.

"It's not going to be business as usual even if they can have a new majority and a new direction for the estate and the school.

"This does not remedy the past misdeeds of the trustees. People need to understand that.

"It's not going to be a forgive and forget and everyone from the IRS and beneficiaries will just go home."

Management of the estate is under investigation by Attorney General Margery Bronster.

In addition, retired Judge Patrick Yim is an appointed fact-finder looking into claims of mismanagement of Kamehameha Schools.

Attorney Colbert Matsumoto is conducting yet a third look at estate matters as the trust "master" appointed by the Probate Court.

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