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Friday, January 4, 2013
Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Sierra Club Koa Ridge Challenge
By Robert Thomas @ 4:10 PM :: 10078 Views :: Environment, Judiciary, Land Use

Quo Warranto Fu: HAWSCT To Review Whether Holdover Land Use Commissioner Disqualified

by Robert Thomas, InverseCondemnation January 4, 2013

In a case we've been following involving the Koa Ridge Makai residential housing project on Oahu, the Hawaii Supreme Court yesterday issued an order accepting the Sierra Club's application for a writ of certiorari in Sierra Club v. Castle & Cooke Homes Hawaii, Inc., No. SCWC-11-0000625.

In the opinion being reviewed, the Intermediate Court of Appeals held that the Hawaii Senate's failure to confirm a sitting Land Use Commissioner for a second term did not disqualify him from office under Haw. Rev. Stat. § 26-34(a).

Oooh, quo warranto. Stay tuned.

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Related: Enviros win 90% in Hawaii Supreme Court

Briefs In HAWSCT Land Use Commissioner Qualification Case

by Robert Thomas, InverseCondemnation.com January 5, 2013

Here are the briefs in Sierra Club v. Castle & Cooke Homes Hawaii, Inc., No. SCWC-11-0000625 (cert. accepted Jan. 4, 2013). That's the case text we've been following involving the Koa Ridge Makai residential housing project on Oahu. The Intermediate Court of Appeals held the Hawaii Senate's failure to confirm a sitting Land Use Commissioner for a second term did not disqualify him from office under Haw. Rev. Stat. § 26-34(a), thus validating the LUC's vote approving the reclassification of land for the project.

The Supreme Court accepted cert to review a single Question Presented (as framed by the petitioner Sierra Club):

Whether a member of a government board or commission is "disqualified" under Haw. Rev. Stat. § 26-34 and the Hawai‘i State Constitution once his initial term expires and the Senate expressly rejects his reappointment to a second term after duly considering his background, experience, and performance.

The briefs on the cert app:

Under Hawaii's appellate process, these briefs (along with the merits briefs filed by the parties in the ICA) are the only briefs the Supreme Court considers prior to making a decision. Nothing further will be filed unless the court requests additional briefing, which it has not done in this case (and rarely does, in our experience).

Speaking of appellate procedure, the Hawaii rules require a 3-inch margin at the top of the flyleaf to account for the e-filing stamp, as the appellate courts have reminded us several times (see here and here for example), and although it is a darn nuisance and makes briefs look a bit funny, we do so. Looks like the parties are batting .000 in this case, a trend we've noticed especially with briefs by the State of Hawaii in other appeals, where it pretty much ignores this and the other parts of Rule 32(a). Come on guys, this isn't circuit court. Is it that hard to comply?

So who's going to win this case? All we know is don't bet against the Sierra Club in the Hawaii Supreme Court. And whatever the result, expect some benchslapping.

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