COMPLAINT CHALLENGING LEGALITY OF PUC COMMISSIONER APPOINTMENT FILED
News Release from Mark J. Bennett, Starn O'Toole Marcus & Fisher, July 15, 2016
HONOLULU, HI -- A complaint has been filed in the First Circuit Court challenging the legality of Governor David Ige's appointment of Thomas Gorak as a Hawaii Public Utilities Commissioner. The complaint, filed by Mina Morita, a former Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) Chairperson and State Representative, centers around the legal issue of whether a vacancy was created when PUC Commissioner Michael Champley's term expired on June 30, 2016, or whether Commissioner Champley remained in office because his named successor, Gorak, lacked the Hawaii State Senate's advice and consent as required by law.
Morita stated: "I filed this complaint because this is an important matter of law that can only be resolved by the judiciary of the State of Hawaii and it must be decided as soon as possible to protect the integrity of the PUC--whose decisions affect every Hawaii resident and business--from undue political interference and to preserve the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches of government. I believe Thomas Gorak had no legal right to take office without the Senate's approval of his nomination, and his having done so puts at risk all PUC proceedings and every decision and order in which he participates."
In filing this rare quo warranto proceeding, Morita is petitioning the court to order Gorak to state the authority under which Gorak claims to be a PUC commissioner, and to remove him from the office he claims to hold.
PDF: FULL TEXT -- PDF: S.P. No. 16-1-0251 ECN
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LAWSUIT filed: Hermina Morita vs. Thomas Gorak
IM: Starn O'Toole Marcus & Fisher attorneys Mark J. Bennett and Mateo Caballero represent Hermina Morita in a civil lawsuit (S.P. No. 16-1-0251 ECN) filed on Friday against Thomas Gorak….
Mark J. Bennett served as Attorney General of Hawaii from 2003 to 2010 during the Linda Lingle administration. He represented NextEra is several proceedings before the PUC including Big Wind, the Inter-Island Cable and the proposed HECO-NextEra merger.
The gist of the suit is the alleged improper appointment of Thomas Gorak to the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission.
The lawsuit stated, “Since July 1, 2016, Thomas Gorak has wrongfully claimed, wrongfully occupied, and usurped the office of Commissioner of the HPUC, an office of the State of Hawaii.
Thomas Gorak has no legal right to do so, because Michael Champley is still the lawful officeholder and Commissioner of the HPUC and will remain so, unless and until Thomas Gorak is confirmed by the Senate of the State of Hawaii as an HPUC Commissioner.”
read … LAWSUIT filed: Hermina Morita vs. Thomas Gorak
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NextEra Has Until July 29 to Appeal
IM: …HECO and NextEra can file a Motion for Reconsideration with the Commission, asking the Commission to modify their position.
Some people believe that this is probably the most likely option, and would buy time for NextEra to consider other options.
The Commission`s Rules of Practice and Procedure state that the aggrieved party or any other party must file a motion for reconsideration “within ten days after the decision or order is served upon the party.”
Two days are allowed for NextEra to receive a snail mail copy, even though the Commission electronically sent copies to all Parties on Friday. Thus NextEra will “officially” be notified on Tuesday, July 19. The motion for reconsideration must be filed within ten days henceforth….
read … July 29