Friday, February 27, 1998

Judge rejects special estate administrator

The attorney general laments probate
court's failure to get involved

By Rick Daysog

Probate Court Judge Colleen Hirai today rejected a petition to appoint a special administrator for the Bishop Estate -- a major setback for the attorney general's investigation of the trust.

In denying the motion, Hirai said she did not want to rule on matters that she said were before the Circuit Court.

Circuit Judge Kevin Chang has been holding hearings on subpoenas issued by the state, which is investigating allegations of financial mismanagement and breaches of fiduciary duties by trustees.

Bishop Estate trustees Gerard Jervis and Oswald Stender had sought appointment of the so-called administrator ad litem to address Attorney General Margery Bronster's investigation.

They said the administrator was needed since trustees faced a conflict of interest in managing the estate's response to the investigation. They also argued that the administrator would help expedite the state's inquiry.

Hirai's decision made no ruling on Stender and Jervis' charges that estate trustees are in conflict.

"The only court that has the power to address the role of the trustees and when they can act in conflict is the probate court," Bronster said. "I'm extremely disappointed that the probate judge refused to do something."

Attorneys for the majority trustees -- Richard Wong, Lokelani Lindsey and Henry Peters -- have denied any conflict and they criticized the appointment of the special administrator as drastic.

William Harrison, an attorney for Lindsey, said the appointment of a special administrator would have been equivalent to removing trustees or appointing a receiver to take over the estate's affairs.

"This was an attempt by the two trustees to hold the majority trustees hostage," said Harrison.

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