Hawai‘i Supreme Court Holds Oral Argument on Big Island

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The Hawai‘i Supreme Court heard oral argument at Kealakehe High School on Thursday, April 26, 2018, as part of the Judiciary’s Courts in the Community outreach program.

Hawaii Supreme Court Associate Justice Richard Pollack answers a question from a high school student at the April 26, 2018 Courts in the Community event at Kealakehe High School. To the right of Justice Pollack are Hawaii Supreme Court Associate Justice Paula A. Nakayama, Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald, Associate Justice Sabrina S. McKenna, and Associate Justice Michael D. Wilson.

More than 400 students from Kealakehe High School, Konawaena High School, Hawai‘i Preparatory Academy, Ke Kula o Ehunuikaimalino, West Hawai‘i Explorations Academy and West Hawai‘i Home School attended to enhance their understanding of the Judiciary’s role in government and its function in resolving disputes in a democratic society.

Under the program, the Hawai‘i Supreme Court convenes in schools to hear oral argument in cases pending before the court. This is the eleventh argument in the program, which began in 2012.

To prepare, the participating juniors and seniors from each school studied a curriculum developed by the Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center and the Students for Public Outreach and Civic Education of the University of Hawai‘i’s William S. Richardson School of Law. Attorneys from the West Hawai‘i Bar Association (WHBA) also volunteered their time and facilitated a moot court activity in the participating classrooms, where the students had the opportunity to argue the case themselves before attending the Courts in the Community event.


“Our Courts in the Community program is about hands-on civics education and providing students with a chance to go beyond the textbooks by observing a real Supreme Court oral argument,” said Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald. “Through this experience, we hope the students realize that the courts provide a process with integrity, one that’s designed to get the truth. That understanding is vital to the future of our democracy.

“I would like to extend a special mahalo to the teachers, the West Hawai‘i Bar Association, the Hawai‘i State Bar Association, the Hawai‘i State Bar Foundation, and the dozens of volunteer attorneys who helped make this happen. These invaluable partnerships are what make the program a success,” added Chief Justice Recktenwald.

The Hawai‘i State Bar Association and the Hawai‘i State Bar Foundation generously provided the students with lunches and transportation to and from their schools on Hawai‘i Island.


“One of the greatest pleasures of serving as president of the Hawai‘i State Bar Association is attending the Courts in the Community program,” said HSBA President Howard K.K. Luke. “Nothing can compare to meeting with the attorneys and teachers, and especially the students, who have diligently prepared to observe this real-life Hawai‘i Supreme Court argument, and to participate in the program following the argument. The location at Kealakehe, a great high school in beautiful West Hawai‘i, has made this year’s program very special. Mahalo nui loa for the gift of warm hospitality and aloha you have given to our Supreme Court and the Hawai‘i State Bar Association.”

“The West Hawai‘i Bar Association appreciates this opportunity to work with our West Hawai‘i teachers and students,” said West Hawai‘i Bar Association President Donna V. Payesko. “As attorneys, one of the most beneficial things we can do for our community is share information on how the justice system works. Through the Courts in the Community Program, students gain knowledge and experience that they will use as leaders of tomorrow. The West Hawai‘i Bar Association would like to thank everyone who made this day possible, especially the Hawai‘i Supreme Court, our volunteer attorneys, teachers and school administrators, and the students themselves for being such enthusiastic participants.”

The court heard oral argument in the case of State v. Kaneaiakala. Oral argument was followed by two separate question-and-answer sessions for the students – one with the attorneys and another with the five justices.


Hawai‘i Island’s community television station Na Leo TV will air a program featuring the complete oral argument and interviews with students, Supreme Court Justices, and other attendees, on:

Spectrum Hawai‘i (Big Island) Channel 53 – Nā Leo TV

  • Saturday, April 28, 2018, at 2:30 p.m.
  • Monday, April 30, 2018, at 9:30 a.m.
  • Wednesday May 2, 2018, at 1 p.m.

Spectrum Hawai‘i (Big Island) Channel 54 – Nā Leo TV

  • Friday, April 27, 2018, at 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, April 29, 2018, at 3 p.m.
  • Tuesday, May 1, 2018, at  7:30 a.m.
  • Thursday, May 3, 2018, at 12:30 p.m.

After May 3, the program will be available on Nā Leo TV website’s Video On Demand at:

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