Maui attorney Isaac Hall took off the gloves in Judge Joseph Cardoza’s courtroom today as he vigorously argued against dropping the injunction that prevents Hawaii Superferry from going to Kahului Harbor.
After arguments and rebuttals, Cardoza recessed until 1:30 p.m. Big mahalo to Christian Holmes at Akaku for streaming the proceedings live.
Hall focused on the “artifice” of Act 2 – the bill passed in the recent special session that ostensibly addresses a “large capacity ferry,” rather than Hawaii Superferry specifically, which would constitute special legislation prohibited by the state Constitution.
“There is no one in this whole world who thinks Act 2 is anything but Superferry legislation,” Hall said, noting that Gov. Linda Lingle said in her own press release that the purpose of the bill was to allow Superferry to operate, and Attorney General Mark Bennett made a similar comment in testimony to the Legislature.
“When he gets a chance to speak freely, he tells the truth,” Hall said of Bennett, who was flanked by Deputy Attorney General William Wynhoff and Superferry attorney Lisa Munger, who was looking tired and worn, despite racking up choke billable hours in this case.
“This could not possibly be anything but special interest legislation,” said Hall, who then asked rhetorically, “does Mr. Bennett think we are the village idiots?”
“They didn’t like your decision, Judge,” Hall said in explaining why Lingle sought a special session to circumvent Cardoza’s ruling — after a four-week trial — that the boat could not use Kahului Harbor until an environmental review was done.
Hall also criticized Lingle’s operating conditions for the ferry, noting that she allows the vessel to travel at 25 knots through the whale sanctuary, even though the state Department of Land and Natural Resources “just issued a new policy that says the safe speed is 10 knots.”
Hall also reiterated that Maui’s plant and animal resources would be jeopardized by the ferry. “Instead of protecting these resources, our Attorney General takes the opportunity to travel over to Maui to argue they should be destroyed by Hawaii Superferry.”
He even jabbed Bennett for being unable to pronounce the word ahupuaa when arguing the plaintiff’s claims on behalf of Native Hawaiian rights had not met.
Hall said he had been approached by numerous people who feel “this whole thing has been done the wrong way from the beginning. That’s the over-arching thing I get.”
Many now feel, he said, that “the only way left to secure justice is in the water” — a reference to the surfboard and kayak blockade that kept the ferry out of Nawiliwili Harbor on Aug. 27. “We in the courts must make every effort not to force our citizens into that position.”
Bennett previously had argued that Act 2 “creates no new rights of any kind….except removing barriers to standing” and said that “dissolving an injunction that has no basis in law any more can’t possibly violate someone’s due process rights.”
“What the plaintiffs are really doing here,” Bennett argued, is throwing a whole bunch of things up against the wall and trying to get one to stick.”