Wednesday, April 22, 1998

Bishop Estate
must wait to
appeal subpoenas

An attorney says the ruling
could deny the estate access to
the Hawaii Supreme Court

By Rick Daysog


Bishop Estate may have to wait until Attorney General Margery Bronster completes her investigation of the trust before it can appeal subpoenas to the Hawaii Supreme Court, under a ruling by a state Circuit Court judge.

An estate attorney called the decision a "terrible precedent" that could deny the estate's access to the high court.

In a move that could speed up the state's 8-month-old investigation of the multibillion-dollar charitable trust, Circuit Judge Kevin Chang yesterday denied an estate motion for entry of a final judgment for a subpoena seeking the admission records of all applicants to the estate-run Kamehameha Schools between Jan. 1, 1996, and Jan. 1, 1998.

Chang's decision specifically forces the estate to hand over records of some 10,000 Kamehameha Schools applicants to Bronster by May 1.

But in a broader context, it forces the estate to wait until the state's investigation is completed months from now before it can appeal other subpoenas.

The state has issued at least 100 subpoenas seeking estate business and school records or testimony in its investigation of charges of financial misconduct and breaches of fiduciary duties by Bishop Estate trustees.

The state has said it may issue another 100 subpoenas before the investigation is completed. "This shuts the door ... until the investigation is over," said Cynthia Quinn, Bronster's special assistant.

Darolyn Lendio, attorney for the Bishop Estate, said the ruling essentially puts the estate's right to appeal in the hands of the attorney general's office. That could lead to an abuse of the state's subpoena powers - not just in Bishop Estate-related matters but in other investigations, she said.

"If government can do this to the estate, it can do it to any other entity," Lendio said.

"It's unfortunate that this comes at the expense of the children at Kamehameha Schools."

Chang's decision yesterday upheld his March 10 ruling ordering the estate to deliver the admissions records to the state.

The estate appealed that March 10 order and had sought the entry for final judgement on the subpoena for the school records so it could proceed with the appeal.

Trust attorneys opposed the subpoena because they said they didn't want to violate the privacy rights of schools applicants.

The state, meanwhile, is seeking the admissions records as it investigates allegations that trustees may have manipulated the student-admission process.

The state's inquiry is a follow-up to charges raised by the estate's court-appointed fact finder, Patrick Yim, whose report in December concluded that trustees influenced admissions to the elementary school by placing preferential red dots next to the names of children who were guaranteed admission.

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