case moved to
One critic calls theirBy Craig Gima
request a delaying tactic
The battle over the permanent removal of the five Bishop Estate trustees may move to civil court, where the matter could stretch out for a year or more as attorneys seek discovery and can file more motions.
Attorneys for trustees Henry Peters, Lokelani Lindsey and Richard Wong have asked probate Judge Colleen Hirai to shift the attorney general's removal petition so that a trial could be held under civil court rules in Circuit Court.
Randal Roth, a trust law professor and co-author of the "Broken Trust" essay that helped spark the attorney general's investigation, said the majority trustees' request is an attempt to delay the proceedings but should not deter Hirai from temporarily removing the trustees.
"The probate court has the authority to remove the trustees right now," Roth said.
The move to another court could mean a different judge will be assigned to hear the petition.
All five trustees filed responses yesterday to attorney general Margery Bronster's petition to permanently remove the trustees.
Another petition to temporarily remove the trustees from office will be heard before Judge Hirai on Oct. 30.
In their responses, the trustees denied or said they had no knowledge of Bronster's allegations of mismanagement, excessive compensation, illegal payments to politicians, conflicts of interest, the hiring of friends in nonbid contracts and misuse of trust assets for personal gain.
Trustee Oswald Stender filed a counterclaim against Peters, Lindsey and Wong alleging that they are responsible for many of the accusations of wrongdoing. The claim asks that any damages assessed against Stender be paid for by the other trustees.
In his response, trustee Gerard Jervis said he was not on the Bishop Estate board when many incidents cited in Bronster's petition took place. He said he learned of many of the allegations through reading newspaper coverage and has tried to correct problems at the multibillion dollar estate.
Renee Yuen, attorney for Peters, repeated her accusation that the investigation of the estate is politically motivated in an election year.
"Ben Cayetano is now publicly campaigning and trying to attract Hawaiian voters through his investigation of the Bishop Estate," Yuen said.
Last month, Yuen filed a motion to have Bronster removed as the attorney for the beneficiaries of the trust.
Deputy Attorney General Hugh Jones has previously denied Yuen's charges. He called the petition a "desperate" move by a trustee facing removal.
A hearing is scheduled for Oct. 23 to hear both Yuen's petition and the responses of the trustees to the permanent removal request.
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