(BIVN) – Court video showing Hilo District Judge Kanani Laubach ruling Marie Alohalani Brown, Maxine Kahaulelio, Ranette Robinson and Keliʻi W. Ioane – accused of obstructing the Mauna Kea Access Road in opposition to the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope – not guilty after trial.
Here is a written transcript of Judge Laubach’s reading of the verdict:
During the trial, the court heard testimony from Clinton Yamada, Dan Dennison, and Lino Kamakau, Ivan Tamura and received exhibits into evidence. This included photographs, a video recording, as well as a map and web page from the Department of Transportation. Court also heard arguments by counsel.
The court makes the following decision based upon the credible evidence at trial.
There is no dispute in this case that this incident occurred on July 17, 2019 in the district of North Hilo, County and State of Hawaiʻi. All the defendants in this case were charged with obstructing and violation of Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes section § 711-1105(1)(a) & (5).
One of the elements of Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes § 711-1105(1)(a) is that an individual knowingly or recklessly obstructs any highway or public passage. Obstruct is defined in Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes section § 711-1100. Obstruct means: renders impassable without unreasonable inconvenience or hazard.
Mr. Yamada testified in this case. He is a civil engineer with the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation for 19 years in the Highways Division for the island of Hawaiʻi. He reviews all of the permits that come in. There are three different kinds of permits he reviews: permit to perform work upon state highways, oversize and overweight vehicle permits, occupancy and use permits.
In this case, there was testimony from Chief Lino Kamakau regarding wide load vehicles going up mauka on Mauna Kea Access Road for TMT, and that access on Mauna Kea Access Road on July 17, 2019 was restricted. Mr. Yamada testified that no permits were submitted for review in July 2019, and no permits were issued. No permits issued for movement of oversized or overweight vehicles, based upon the evidence in this case. That is the record in this case.
Evidence that Mauna Kea Access Road was closed or restricted to the public, coupled with no permits, equals no obstruction. There would be no unreasonable inconvenience or hazard.
The court does appreciate the example the State gave in its closing argument regarding road race or marathon. If a third party blocks the road, you’re still blocking a closed road. However, in this case, the testimony is that there were no permits issued. No permits for any oversized or overweight vehicles as described by Chief Kamakau and his testimony regarding wide load vehicles. The court cannot find that there was unreasonable inconvenience or hazard. The State has failed to meet their burden beyond a reasonable doubt as to the element of obstruction.
Court finds Marie Brown and Ranette Robinson not guilty of Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes § 711-1105(1)(a) and finds Keliʻi Ioane and Maxine Kahaulelio not guilty of Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes § 711-1105(1)(a) and (5).
Anything further from the state?