HILO, Hawaii – Three separate motions filed by Lanny Sinkin on behalf of the Temple of Lono were denied by Judge Riki May Amano during Friday’s TMT contested case pre-hearing conference held in Hilo.
The Temple Of Lono has been one of the more active participants in the contested case proceedings. The Temple is a “traditional faith in the Hawaiian Civilization with an unbroken practice extending to this time” under Tahuna Frank Kamehameha Tamealoha Anuumealani Nobriga. Sinkin is the Temple’s lay representative.
First, Sinkin asked Amano to grant a partial summary judgment that the peak of Mauna Kea “is especially sacred to the traditional Hawaiian faith and that the traditional Hawaiian faith still exists.”
Carlsmith Ball LLP attorneys for the University of Hawaii-Hilo responded with 16 page argument in opposition, concluding that the Temple’s request “would violate the establishment clause of both the U.S. and Hawaii Constitutions, and is otherwise unsupported by admissible evidence and is irrelevant to these proceedings.” Both the Thirty Meter Telescope and PUEO joined in the University’s opposition.
Amano denied the Temple’s motion, saying the questions posited are not before her or the hearing.
Temple of Lono also made a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction based on unresolved land claims, saying “the Kingdom (of Hawaii) still exists,” and “has an unresolved claim to the land at issue in this proceeding.”
Watanabe Ing LLC attorneys for the Thirty Meter Telescope opposed the motion for dismissal, saying the “State of Hawaii is the lawful government of the Hawaiian Islands and has clear title to the lands on Mauna Kea.”
A determination that the Kingdom has claim to Mauna Kea would require Amano to find that the Kingdom exists. “The question of whether the Kingdom exists presents a non-justiciable political question that this Hearings Officer lacks subject matter jurisdiction over,” TMT stated, citing Sai v. Clinton, meaning the sovereignty debate is a political question beyond the jurisdiction of the courts.
Although the Temple’s motion was filed late, Amano allowed it and then denied it, saying it “flies in the face of all the case law, including case law from the U.S. Supreme Court.”
However, Amano said “I am not here to make a determination of that issue and I’m not making a determination on that issue by denying the motion.”
The Temple of Lono motion also moved to vacate the Board Of Land and Natural Resources’ July 22, 2016 Minute Order No. 14, denying Dwight J. Vicente’s motion to disqualify Judge Amano.
Sinkin argued that the BLNR decision conflicted with the time schedule set by Amano in the previous pre-hearing conference.
Amano said the order from the board are beyond her scope, and motions to vacate a BLNR decision should be taken to the that board.
NOTE: This is one part of a multi-part video series documenting the numerous motions ruled on by Judge Amano during the August 5, 2016 pre-hearing conference. The full video collection is here.