What a gorgeous day!
Jupiter and Venus were golden and Waialale — as first glimpsed through the looped barbed wire atop the lumber yard fence — was totally clear, as were Kalalea, Hokualele, Nounou, Haupu, Makaleha and all the other mountains, when Koko and I set out walking this morning.
Clouds started slowly drifting in as we cruised down Kawaihau Road, with me admiring the super cute architecture of some of the houses, and Koko endlessly fascinated with an array of scents, and by the time the eastern sky turned yellow, they were piling up mauka and shapeshifting into coral heads makai.
And then came the rosy light of dawn, casting everything in that soft, warm, glow that softens all the rough edges.
The attorneys for Joe Brescia are playing a little rough, subpoenaing the unpublished interviews and raw video footage of independent filmmaker Keoni Kealoha Alvarez, who is making a documentary on Hawaiian burial practices for PBS.
Brescia’s attorneys apparently believe the material will be useful in the civil suit they’ve filed against those who have opposed the house Brescia is building atop burials at Naue, and even some who have not.
Fortunately, the ACLU and Honolulu attorney James Bickerton have agreed to represent Keoni, who received a 2005 commendation from Gov. Lingle for his accomplishments in preserving the Hawaiian culture, using Hawaii’s new “media shield law.”
According to a press release from the ACLU:
In preparing this documentary, Alvarez was unwittingly drawn into a legal battle over the construction of Joseph A. Brescia's home on Naue Point on Kauai.
Bickerton said: "Alvarez's unpublished documentary footage is clearly protected by law against disclosure under Hawaii's 'media shield.' The law restricts attorneys from using the subpoena power of the court to compel protected information from journalists. Just as we expect and protect doctor-patient confidentiality because it fosters trust and healthy outcomes, journalists have, under the law, the same right to protect the confidentiality of their sources and unpublished materials. This trust allows for a diverse, robust and independent media, which in turn gives us a more accountable and transparent system of government."
Alvarez explained, "As a journalist, I am trying to be as pono as I can in producing this film. I have promised everyone complete confidentiality, and I have promised everyone that the film and the interviews will not be released publicly until everyone in it has had a chance to review, comment, or object. Material that doesn't make it into the final published film is intended to remain confidential."
"The documentary deals with Hawaiian belief systems, burial practices, and issues that many people consider to be kapu," Alvarez continued to say: "If I'm forced to turn over these tapes we'll never be able to do a project like this again - lots of really important Hawaiian cultural preservation work simply won't happen because people will be too afraid to do it. The trust in the journalist will be destroyed."
Daniel Gluck, ACLU senior staff attorney, stated, "Hawaii's media shield law is designed to create an environment in which journalists like Alvarez can take on difficult and sensitive projects without having to fear court actions undermining their integrity. This case is about defending all media voices to make sure that attorneys cannot abuse the court's power - and cannot compromise journalistic integrity - just to 'fish' for information."
Attorney Bickerton was more direct: "Simply put, Brescia has no right to these materials. If he can't see that by reading the new law, we will ask the court to explain it to him."
I was a bit amused by one comment that followed the , Advertiser story:
And since when have film makers become journalists? The media shield law is suppose to protect journalists and film makers are not journalists.
Ummm, maybe that person should check out the documentary section at Blockbuster, instead of just the blockbusters.
While we’re on the subject of journalistic lawsuits, I gotta hand it to Charley Foster for blogging on something involving me that I didn’t even know about. Namely, that the Intermediate Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s dismissal of a defamation suit filed by Wally Wilson against The Garden Island and past-reporter Dennis Wilkin, KPD, Honolulu Magazine and me.
Wilson wasn’t pleased that Dennis and I made references to him being a suspect in our coverage of the “serial killings” and sex assaults that occurred on Kauai’s Westside in 2000, and the lawsuit blamed the cops for divulging the info. It’s too bad “The Killing Year,” the piece I wrote for the August 2001 issue of Honolulu Magazine, isn’t archived on line, as I always thought it was one of the best stories I’ve ever written. It didn’t just cover the “serial killings,” but the six homicides and two near-homicides that were carried out on Kauai that year, and public attitudes about KPD.
At the time of the killings, Wilson was on parole for a rape, sex abuse and kidnapping conviction, which prompted an attorney friend, in reassuring me about the lawsuit, to remark: “It’s kind of hard to defame a convicted rapist.”
In regard to my coverage, the Intermediate Court found — and hat tip to Charley for the link — that:
The article did not state or infer that Wilson was in fact the Kauai serial killer or that he was very likely the Kauai serial killer. The plain meaning of the article is that Wilson was considered a subject in the attacks, a circumstance that Wilson readily concedes…. We conclude that the article could not rationally be understood as the author’s factual assertion that Wilson was the Kauai serial kiler or that he was very likely the Kauai serial killer.
We also reject Wilson’s claim that he was defamed by the article's statement that it was “widely accepted as fact” on Kauai that he was the suspected serial killer. The “widely accepted” characterization was a statement of the author’s opinion that was not susceptible of being proved true or false.
One thing I never did understand is why KHNL News 8 was never included in the suit, as the station was not only the first to name Wilson, it also ran his photo.
Wilson, who has denied any involvement in the Kauai attacks, has since served his time, and according to the sex offender registry, is now reportedly living on Oahu.
I wonder if we'll ever know for sure who committed those crimes.