End ID requirements
in all Judiciary hearings


A man whose driver's license was temporarily revoked has challenged ID requirements for people attending his revocation hearing.

SOME government agencies, including state legislative committees, have acquired the bad habit over many years of passing around a clipboard for people attending a hearing to identify themselves on a piece of paper. For the past three years, the Judiciary has gone a step further, requiring everyone attending a hearing on revocation of a driver's license to sign a log and present photo identification.

The Big Brother requirement invades people's privacy, is probably unconstitutional and is virtually useless in its claimed purpose of providing security. The requirement should be eliminated.

Politicians and some businesses began the practice of having people at gatherings log in, perhaps so they could be entered onto mailing lists or for other questionable purposes. Some news reporters routinely pass the clipboard to the next person without signing in, suspicious that knowledge of the media being present might put the meeting leaders on guard. Such log-ins are rarely enforced.

Ronald Sakata, head of the Judiciary's Administrative Driver's License Revocation Office, initiated the requirement in May 2001 that all people attending revocation hearings sign in and show a photo ID. Sakata reasoned that spectators would be less likely to disrupt hearings or engage in threats of violence, although no such disruption has ever occurred.

Last month, Jacqueline Kaneshiro, presiding over a revocation hearing involving Darcy Freitas, who had temporarily lost his driver's license, agreed that Sakata's ID system was warranted. Since the hearings are in a room not equipped with metal detectors used in court buildings, Kaneshiro ruled that the ID requirement was the least intrusive way to assure an orderly hearing. The issue is pending before the state Supreme Court.

Retired Honolulu Police Chief Michael Nakamura scoffs at the notion that the ID system provides security. Although the system is "not absolutely useless," Nakamura testified in the Freitas case, it is "close to it." He said a person's signing of the log and presentation of his ID will not keep him from losing his composure and becoming disruptive.

"Anything that discourages public participation in government cannot be tolerated if there is an alternative means of achieving the interests of government," said Earle Partington, Freitas's attorney. Lois Perrin, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Hawaii, told the Star-Bulletin's Rob Perez that such a requirement, if allowed, "could spread elsewhere."

The Legislature has appropriated money to install surveillance and monitoring equipment at the agency's South King Street office. Delays in the installation of the equipment don't warrant the continued invasion of people's privacy. If Sakata is concerned about disorder, he should arrange for a Judiciary security guard to be present at the dozens of revocation hearings held each week.




Oahu Publications, Inc. publishes the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, MidWeek and military newspapers

David Black, Dan Case, Dennis Francis,
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