Maui News

Warrant Recalled for Hawaiian Man Who Refused to Speak English in Court

January 25, 2018, 11:38 AM HST
* Updated January 25, 7:30 PM
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The bench warrant that was issued for the arrest of Kaleikoa Kaʻeo was recalled at 8:57 a.m. today (Thursday, Jan. 25), according to court documents. The case has been rescheduled for “status, trial setting and further hearing on the issue of an interpreter,” for Feb. 21, 2018.

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In a statement issued by the courts this morning the following was said:

This morning, Maui District Court Judge Blaine Kobayashi issued an order recalling the bench warrant in State v. Samuel Kaleikoa Kaeo, case number 2DCW-17-0002038. Therefore, Mr. Kaeo is not subject to arrest. In addition, a hearing has been scheduled regarding the use of a Hawaiian language interpreter.

The Judiciary will be reviewing its policies regarding the provision of Hawaiian language interpreters.

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When the trial was set to start on Wednesday, the judge asked Kaʻeo to state his name for the record.  In ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, Kaʻeo confirmed his presence, but during the proceedings, Judge Blaine Kobayashi stated that the court “could not get a definitive determination for the record” that the defendant seated in court was Mr. Kaʻeo.  The court then ordered a bench warrant be issued in the amount of $250 per count.  Court records from Wednesday indicated that the defendant was “Not Present.”

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Kaʻeo, who is a Hawaiian studies professor at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College, is charged with three petty misdemeanor counts for his arrest during the Kākoʻo Haleakalā demonstration held against construction of the Daniel K Inouye Solar Telescope on Maui in August 2017.  He was also arrested during a similar demonstration which also blocked convoys to the site two years earlier.

In the current case, Kaʻeo pleaded not guilty to disorderly conduct, obstructing a sidewalk and failure to obey police who were directing traffic, according to court documents.

On Dec. 27, 2017, the court granted a motion entered by the state to conduct Kaʻeo’s trial in English. According to court minutes, the decision was made in the absence of a Hawaiian interpreter, who was not present due to a family emergency.  At the time, the bailiff was ordered to cancel the Hawaiian Interpreter for trial and future proceedings.

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