News

Judiciary Announces Hawaiian Language Interpreter Policy

January 26, 2018, 3:20 PM HST
* Updated January 26, 3:21 PM
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Kaleikoa Ka’eo after his court appearance on Wednesday. PC: Wendy Osher from Maui Now

After a warrant was issued and then recalled for the arrest of Kaleikoa Kaʻeo after he refused to speak English in a Maui courtroom on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018, the Judiciary today announced the following policy regarding Hawaiian language interpreters during courtroom proceedings:

The Judiciary will provide or permit qualified Hawaiian language interpreters to the extent reasonably possible when parties in courtroom proceedings choose to express themselves through the Hawaiian language.

The Judiciary will develop implementation procedures for this policy, and welcomes input from the community. Comments may be sent to [email protected].

Individuals who are interested in serving as a court interpreter should contact the Office on Equality and Access to the Courts at (808) 539-4860 for further information. Basic orientation workshops for court interpreters of all languages are scheduled across the State on the following dates and locations:

Hawaiʻi Island (Kona): March 6-7 at the Kona Driver Education Office in the Kealakekua Business Plaza
Hawaiʻi Island (Hilo): March 15-16 at the Hilo Courthouse
Oʻahu: Feb. 24-25 or March 24-25 at the Supreme Court Building in downtown Honolulu
Kauaʻi: Feb. 13-14 at the Kauai Courthouse in Lihue
Maui: Feb. 28-March 1 at the Maui Driver Education Office in the Main Street Promenade Building

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The deadline to register is Jan. 31, 2018.

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Background/History:

A bench warrant that was issued and then recalled for Samuel Kaleikoa Kaʻeo when he chose to speak only in Hawaiian for a trial involving his arrest at last year’s demonstration against the construction of the Daniel K Inouye solar telescope atop Haleakalā.

Wendy Osher, news director and reporter for our sister site Maui Now, spoke with Kaʻeo yesterday and asked him his thoughts.

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Being proficient in both Hawaiian and English, critics asked why Kaʻeo chose to speak in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi during Wednesday’s court proceedings. Given the recent 125th anniversary events of the overthrow and the recent remembrance of the 100th anniversary of Queen Liliʻuokalani’s death, we asked Kaʻeo if he feels progress has been made towards the betterment of the Hawaiian nation.

The case has been rescheduled for “status, trial setting and further hearing on the issue of an interpreter,” for Feb. 21st.

The group Kākoʻo Haleakalā that was involved in the initial telescope protests has planned a gathering this afternoon in front of the Old Wailuku Courthouse in support of Kaʻeo. Maui Now will live stream the demonstration on Facebook.

Rally organizers put a call out to ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi supporters and advocates to join in a rally. “It is disappointing that the state government continues to place barriers on ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, 40 years after Hawaiʻi’s constitution was amended to recognize the Hawaiian language as an official language of the state. We demand that the State Judiciary find an immediate solution to this issue,” organizers said in a social media post.

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