Wednesday, December 30, 1998

Lawyer tries to
discredit student
in Lindsey trial

Since-dropped plans for a
lawsuit against the trustee
are questioned in court

By Rick Daysog


An attorney for Bishop Estate trustee Lokelani Lindsey yesterday grilled a former Kamehameha Schools student body president about plans to file a lawsuit against Lindsey and the multibillion dollar charitable trust.

Attorney Michael Green asked Kamani Kuala'au, a 1997 Kamehameha School graduate, whether he was seeking monetary damages when he approached prominent local attorney John Edmunds and former city Corporation Counsel Rodney Veary to represent him nearly a year ago.

Green is attempting to impeach Kuala'au's credibility as a witness in the Lindsey removal case, and consideration of a lawsuit could indicate a motive for Kuala'au's testimony.

Kuala'au, now a sophomore at Princeton University, alleged that in May 1997 Lindsey summoned him to her downtown office and reduced him to tears as she questioned him for 2-1/2 hours about his support for embattled school President Michael Chun.

Yesterday, Kuala'au said he approached Edmunds and Veary because he was seeking an apology from the estate's trustees for Lindsey's behavior during the 1997 encounter.

Kuala'au said a lawsuit was one of several options he was considering as a way of securing an apology, which he formally requested from the estate's board in a January 1998 letter.

Any monetary damages that resulted from a suit would pay for costs or could be donated to a charity, Kuala'au said.

The estate did not offer an apology, but Kuala'au said he now has no plans to sue Lindsey or the estate.

Kuala'au is a key witness in the Lindsey removal trial who offers a first-hand account of alleged intimidation by Lindsey.

Kuala'au description of his 1997 meeting with Lindsey helped fuel the controversy surrounding the Bishop Estate. Trustees Gerard Jervis and Oswald Stender are seeking Lindsey's ouster, saying she breached her fiduciary duties, is unfit to serve and intimidated staffers and students.

Lindsey's lawyers have disputed Kuala'au's description of the 1997 meeting, saying the trustee did not try to intimidate the former Kamehameha Schools student. Green has attempted to show that Lindsey and Kuala'au have enjoyed a friendly relationship dating back to 1993.

In his Nov. 9 opening statement Green alleged that Kuala'au lied under oath during his deposition and would commit perjury when called as a witness.

Alan Murakami, Kuala'au's attorney, challenged Green to prove that his client lied under oath, saying Kuala'au has been truthful in his deposition and in his testimony before the court.

"That's outrageous," Murakami said when asked about Green's Nov. 9 comments. "There's nothing worse than making a claim that he can't fulfill."

The Lindsey removal trial, now in its second month, will resume on Thursday. Jervis likely will be the next witness called.

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