Thursday, January 28, 1999

Legal bills from
Bishop probe add
up for both sides

The estate's litigator and
his firm have billed Bishop
nearly $1.5 million

By Rick Daysog


With the state's investigation of the Bishop Estate now in the middle of its second year, the legal tab is mounting for both sides.

Yesterday, a former first deputy for the attorney general's office disclosed that the office paid a Washington, D.C., law firm, Caplin & Drysdale, about $500,000 for work connected to its investigation of the Bishop Estate.

That's on top of $500,000 paid so far by the attorney general's office to local private investigative firm Goodenow Associates Inc. for its work in the 17-month investigation.

On the other side, the Bishop Estate's litigator, William McCorriston, and his firm billed the estate nearly $1.5 million for the 15-month period ending December 1998, according to separate court filings on Tuesday by Bishop Estate trustee Oswald Stender.

While the McCorriston firm's legal bills may include matters other than the attorney general's investigation, they are a good gauge of what the tax-exempt charity is paying to defend itself.

The estate's tab does not include legal fees that each trustee is paying in the various other proceedings relating to the Bishop Estate controversy.

All five board members have hired attorneys at their own cost to represent them in civil matters such as the Lokelani Lindsey removal case and Attorney General Margery Bronster's Sept. 10 petition to remove several trustees for alleged breaches of trust.

Some hearings are attended by as many as a dozen lawyers representing the state, the trust, individual board members or other interested parties.

"I'm not surprised by the number of lawyers involved. I'm not surprised by the amount of fees involved," said Randall Roth, local trust law expert and one of five authors of the 1997 "Broken Trust" article which criticized trustees' management of the charity and the estate-run Kamehameha Schools.

"I'm just disappointed that so much be money is being spent on something other than educating Hawaiian children."

The state's legal bills were disclosed during a Circuit Court hearing on Bishop Estate trustee Henry Peters' request to dismiss a Nov. 27 grand jury criminal indictment against him. Peters and the estate's attorneys have questioned the amount of money spent on the probe.

Peters and local businessmen Jeff Stone and Leighton Mau, who were indicted by the grand jury on conspiracy and other charges, are asking Circuit Judge Michael Town to dismiss the charges on the grounds that the attorney general's office doesn't have the proper authority to prosecute them.

On the witness stand yesterday, former First Deputy Attorney General John Anderson testified that the state paid the Caplin & Drysdale firm about $500,000 for hourly work and expenses relating to the Bishop Estate investigation.

Anderson, who recently retired from the state, did not disclose details of the firm's work for the attorney general's office.

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