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Friday, January 13, 2017
Did Activists Meet Deadline to Challenge Council Candidate?
By Robert Thomas @ 1:46 PM :: 7377 Views :: Hawaii County , Ethics, Office of Elections

Upcoming Election Law Hawaii Supreme Court Argument Preview: When Is A Registration Challenge "Brought?"

by Robert Thomas, InverseCondemnation, January 13, 2017

Our colleague Rebecca Copeland has posted a preview and the briefs in an election law case we're arguing next week in the Hawaii Supreme Court. See "Writ to Watch: Hyland v. Gonzales." We've written about the case earlier here and here.

The question for the court's review is whether an appeal in a voter registration challenge case is timely brought -- when mailed by the appellant, or when received by the Board of Registration Appeals? Under the statute, challengers have ten days in which to "bring" an appeal, and the Intermediate Court of Appeals concluded that it must be delivered to the Board within that time, not merely mailed. The court's decision in this case could have an impact beyond the relatively rare election law context, because many administrative procedures and appeals are subject to similarly-phrased deadlines. 

Rebecca writes:

In the underlying case, Hyland challenged the voter registration of another Hawaii county voter. The challenge was filed with the Office of the County Clerk for the County of Hawaii. The Clerk denied the challenge, and Hyland appealed to the Hawaii County Board of Registration. The Board ruled that it lacked jurisdiction over the appeal because it had not been timely filed – according to the Board, an appeal must be received within the 10-day prescribed filing period. Hyland appealed to the ICA, and the court affirmed.

On certiorari, Hyland argues that the Board had jurisdiction to consider his appeal. The essence of the appeal is whether it was timely because, according to Hyland, he mailed it within the ten-day appeal window. Hyland was told that the appeal had to be mailed to Oahu, but he was not told that the delivery of the document to the Oahu was required to be within the ten days.

The Judiciary has also previewed the arguments on its web site

No. SCWC-15-0000053, Thursday, January 19, 2017, 8:45 a.m.

LANRIC HYLAND, Petitioner/Petitioner-Appellant, vs. RONALD GONZALES and STEWART MAEDA, in his official capacity as Hawai`i County Clerk, Respondents/Respondents-Appellees.

The above-captioned case has been set for argument on the merits at:

Supreme Court Courtroom
Ali`iolani Hale, 2nd Floor
417 South King Street
Honolulu, HI 96813

Attorneys for Petitioner Lanric Hyland:

Robert H. Thomas and Mark M. Murakami

Attorneys for Respondent Board of Registration:

Patricia Ohara and Valri Lei Kunimoto, Deputy Attorneys General; Ewan C. Rayner, Deputy Solicitor General

Attorneys for Respondent Stewart Maeda:

Christopher P. Schlueter and Laureen L. Martin, Deputy Corporation Counsels

Attorney for Respondent Ronald Gonzales:

Lincoln S.T. Ashida

NOTE: Order accepting Application for Writ of Certiorari, filed 05/11/16.


Brief Description:

The petitioner in this case challenged the voter registration status of a voter by filing a challenge with the Office of the County Clerk of the County of Hawai`i. Following the county clerk’s decision that the challenged voter was properly registered, petitioner appealed the county clerk decision to the local Board of Registration (Board) for the County of Hawai`i. The challenged voter filed objections to the jurisdiction of the Board arguing that the appeal was untimely. The Board agreed, concluding that it was without jurisdiction to consider the appeal because the appeal was untimely as it was not received by the Board within the ten-day filing period.

Petitioner appealed the Board’s decision to the Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA) contending that petitioner’s appeal was timely. In a memorandum opinion, the ICA affirmed the order dismissing the appeal, concluding that petitioner’s appeal was not timely as it was not filed until the date it was received by the local board in the mail. The ICA in its ruling also determined that the Board erred in concluding that Columbus Day was a holiday that tolled the appeal deadline, although the ICA concluded that the error was harmless because the appeal would have been untimely in any event. Petitioner filed an application for writ of certiorari with this court, which was granted. In his application, petitioner maintains that the Board had jurisdiction over his appeal because his appeal was timely filed with the Board based on the date of the mailing of his notice of appeal.

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