By Kathryn Bender, Star-Bulletin
Kamani Kuala'au testifying about a grilling by
Bishop Estate trustee Lokelani Lindsey.
After talk with
The Bishop trustee wanted toBy Rick Daysog
keep him from writing to the
Supreme Court, he says
A former Kamehameha Schools student body president said he broke down in tears during a May 1997 meeting in which Bishop Estate trustee Lokelani Lindsey grilled him in her downtown office about his role in the campus controversy.
Kamani Kuala'au, a 1997 graduate and now a sophomore at Princeton University, yesterday testified that his stomach was "in knots" hours after the session, which he described as intimidating.
At one point during the 21/2-hour meeting, Kuala'au testified, Lindsey said she would not write a letter to Princeton complaining that Kuala'au was a "rabble-rouser," but asked him how he would feel if she were to do so.
"I felt sick," Kuala'au said. "My stomach was sore."
Kuala'au is a key witness in the petition by estate trustees Oswald Stender and Gerard Jervis to remove Lindsey from the estate's five-member board. Stender and Jervis allege that Lindsey breached her fiduciary duties, intimidated staffers and students, and is unfit to serve as a trustee.
Kuala'au's account of the May 1997 meeting helped touch off the Bishop Estate controversy, which has engulfed the Kapalama Heights campus and embroiled the estate's downtown Kawaiahao Plaza headquarters in a state investigation.
Lindsey's attorneys have argued that she did not intimidate Kuala'au, saying the two enjoyed a friendly relationship dating back to 1993. Rather, they said that Stender improperly enlisted the student's aid in a campaign to discredit Lindsey.
Under questioning by Stender's attorney Douglas Ing, Kuala'au said he was summoned to the meeting with Lindsey by school Principal Anthony Ramos after he had read a letter in several morning classes expressing support for Kamehameha School's embattled President Michael Chun.
The letter, co-written with fellow class officer James Moniz, was to be sent to the state Supreme Court.
At the time, the campus was rife with rumors that trustees were about to fire Chun, and Stender had informed him of such plans during an April 30 telephone conversation, Kuala'au said.
Kuala'au, a boarding student, testified that his parents were not notified of his meeting with Lindsey but said that he felt he had no choice but to attend.
During the meeting, Lindsey confronted him with messages she said she received from parents complaining about his behavior on campus, Kuala'au said. Lindsey said a mother of an intermediate-school student told her that Kuala'au was behind a classroom petition supporting Chun. Another parent said the student had instigated a letter-writing campaign.
A third parent complained to Lindsey that Stender was using Kuala'au to fuel support for Chun, testified Kuala'au, who denied he was behind a signature petition or a letter-writing campaign.
Lindsey told him that the trustees had not discussed firing Chun, Kuala'au testified. She also persuaded him not to send his letter to the Supreme Court, saying it could destroy the Kamehameha institution, he said.
"I really believed that it was a scare tactic . . . and it worked," he said. "I was scared."
Michael Green, Lindsey's lawyer, spent much of yesterday working to impeach Kuala'au's credibility.
Green questioned the student about attempts to hire prominent local attorney John Edmunds and former City Corporation Counsel Rodney Veary to sue Lindsey or the Bishop Estate. The move could show a motive for Kuala'au's testimony, Lindsey's attorneys believe.
Kuala'au said he approached the two attorneys to examine his legal options but said he has since ruled out filing a lawsuit.
Green also asked Kuala'au to recount a 1995 incident in which he admitting to lying after he missed a meeting about a Tahiti trip. Kuala'au told staffers that he was sick in the school infirmary when he was attending a soccer game. Kuala'au said he confessed after hearing a sermon at the school chapel by principal Ramos.
"It was definitely one of my biggest learning experiences at Kamehameha," Kuala'au said. "I realized that after I lied, I shouldn't have done that."
AG wants SupremeBy Rick Daysog
Court to step down
from actions on
Attorney General Margery Bronster is calling for the state Supreme Court to step down from considering legal actions on the removal of Bishop Estate trustee Lokelani Lindsey, saying the court's involvement may raise questions of public confidence in the judiciary.
But estate attorney William McCorriston said the move is another attempt by Bronster to intimidate the high court and deny the estate's due process.
In legal papers filed yesterday, Deputy Attorney General Dorothy Sellers said at least one Supreme Court justice communicated directly with estate trustee Gerard Jervis about the controversy surrounding the charitable trust and the estate-run Kamehameha Schools.
Sellers cited Lindsey's notes of a May 5, 1997, trustee meeting saying that Jervis received a telephone call from a high court judge who told Jervis that Chief Justice Ronald Moon and Associate Justice Steven Levinson were concerned about what they were hearing in the local community.
The discussion between Jervis and the judge raises the appearance of impropriety and is grounds for the high court's recusal, according to Sellers.
Jervis and fellow trustee Oswald Stender have petitioned the state courts to remove Lindsey on grounds that she breached her fiduciary duties, intimidated students and staffers, and is unfit to serve as a trustee.
"Any ruling by this court . . . can only undermine the perception of the public of the fairness and integrity of the process," Sellers wrote.
The state's recusal motion comes after Chief Justice Moon on Wednesday temporarily blocked Circuit Judge Bambi Weil's ruling, which ordered Bishop attorneys to hand over two boxes containing estate boardroom minutes from 1993 through 1997.
The minutes had been subpoenaed by Stender's lawyer Douglas Ing in the Lindsey removal trial.
Moon said that Weil must give the estate's in-house counsel Nathan Aipa and his lawyer, Howard Luke, ample opportunity to voice their objections to the subpoena.
Luke and the estate's outside attorneys McCorriston and Bruce Graham had filed separate writs of mandamuses requesting the high court to overturn Weil's decision. A hearing on Aipa's objections is scheduled for Thursday. The writs before the Supreme Court are pending.
In her papers yesterday, Sellers argued that the Supreme Court's previous decision to recuse itself from hearing Bishop Estate appeals involving the state's investigation of all the trustees, applies to the Lindsey removal case.
In March, the Supreme Court justices voted to remove themselves from hearing appeals to subpoenas issued in the state investigation. Instead, the appeals are being heard by five replacement justices.
Bronster had argued for that March recusal on the grounds that the Supreme Court justices, until recently, had selected Bishop Estate's trustees and could be a target of her investigation.
Attorneys for the Bishop Estate argued then that Bronster intimidated the Supreme Court justices and was denying the estate's access to the high court.
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