Tuesday, January 26, 1999

Attorney General
resists testifying

Margery Bronster asks the
state Supreme Court to
overturn the ruling

By Rick Daysog


Attorney General Margery Bronster this morning asked the state Supreme Court to reverse a lower court ruling ordering her testimony in the criminal case against Bishop Estate trustee Henry Peters.

Bronster is requesting the five justices to overturn Circuit Judge Michael Town's ruling last week compelling her to testify. She also asked the Supreme Court to suspend the Circuit Court proceedings until the high court makes a ruling.

State attorneys have argued that Bronster's testimony in the Peters case could set a dangerous legal precedent that could seriously impact future criminal prosecutions by the state.

The high court appeal came as state attorneys this morning asked Town to temporarily suspend today's hearing on motions to dismiss criminal indictments against Peters and local businessmen Jeffrey Stone and Leighton Mau.

Town denied the request, allowing the hearing to continue.

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Henry Peters, Bishop Estate trustee, passed time reading
the newspaper yesterday while waiting for his trial to begin.
A major issue today may be whether Attorney General Margery
Bronster must testify as a witness at the proceedings.

As of late morning, the high court had not ruled on Bronster's appeal.

Attorneys for Peters, Mau and Stone sharply criticized Bronster's move this morning, saying she is trying to evade her testimony which they had rightfully subpoenaed. Brook Hart, Mau's attorney, likened the move to President Bill Clinton evoking executive privilege.

"I feel strongly that Miss Bronster is acting outside the law," added Renee Yuen, Peters' lawyer. "I believe that she is in contempt of court at this time."

The question of Bronster's testimony has been simmering for the past several days. Town denied a motion last week by the attorney general's office to quash a subpoena for her testimony.

But yesterday, Town left open the possibility that recently retired First Deputy Attorney General John Anderson could testify in Bronster's place.

Town said he would decide the question of Bronster's testimony after hearing what Anderson had to say. But he noted that Bronster should be "ready, willing and able" to testify.

Peters, Mau and Stone were indicted Nov. 27 by an Oahu grand jury in a Hawaii Kai land deal between the estate and a partnership affiliated with Stone.

John Edmunds, Stone's lawyer, and Brook Hart, an attorney for Mau, are asking Town to dismiss the indictments on the ground that Bronster -- who convened the grand jury -- does not have proper legal authority.

Besides the criminal case, Bronster has filed a civil petition seeking the permanent and temporary removal of Peters from the Bishop Estate board, alleging that he breached his fiduciary duties and mismanaged trust assets.

Yesterday, Edmunds called University of Pennsylvania Law Professor Geoffrey Hazard to testify about Bronster's alleged conflicts of interest. Hazard said he believes Bronster's dual role raises the possibility she could use the criminal proceedings .

The attorney general's office countered with the testimony of former federal prosecutor and Tennessee Attorney General Michael Cody, who said parallel investigations such as the Bishop Estate inquiry do not raise an inherent ethical violation on the part of prosecutors.

In a related matter, Bishop Estate trustees Oswald Stender and Gerard Jervis yesterday asked Probate Judge Kevin Chang to disqualify Bishop Estate's outside counsel William McCorriston, his partner Darolyn Lendio and other members of his law firm from any matters relating to the Internal Revenue Services audit of the multibillion dollar estate.

Attorneys for Stender and Jervis said that McCorriston and his firm have a conflict of interest in representing all five trustees. A hearing is set for Feb. 26.

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