That’s been a question at the heart of an ongoing battle between the University of Hawaii, the Department of Land and Natural Resources and Native Hawaiian groups. The Native Hawaiian groups have challenged a permit for UH’s new multi-million-dollar telescope slated for Haleakala. The DLNR hearing officer in the case has complained publicly that he was pressured to approve the permit by U.S. Sen Daniel Inouye’s staff.

He was fired, and the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation ended up going to court to win release of emails and other correspondence between the hearing officer, Inouye’s people and Gov. Neil Abercrombie. Now journalist and local blogger Ian Lind reports a judge has sided with the NHLC and ordered the documents to be turned over.

It will be interesting to see if the question of political pressure can finally be answered.