In the latest twist to legal challenges regarding the residency of state Rep. Calvin Say, Circuit Court Judge Karen Nakasone ruled today that the House of Representatives can intervene in a case set to be heard next month.

Say, the former House speaker, represents District 20 (Palolo, St. Louis Heights, Maunawali Heights, Wilhelmina Rise, Kaimuki). The Democrat has been in office since 1976.

He has survived previous legal challenges. But six District 20 residents, including Ramona Hussey, are suing because they say Say doesn’t live in the area, as is required by the Hawaii Constitution.

Say does have a home in Palolo, but he has long lived in Pacific Heights with his wife and two children, the plaintiffs say.

Calvin Say up close microphone

Calvin Say in March 2014.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

Nakasone ruled today that the House shares “commonality” with claims made by Say. She also said granting intervention status to the House would not delay or prejudice the case.

Asked by reporters after the hearing why the House should not have been allowed to intervene, the plaintiff’s attorney, Lance Collins, said, “It boils down to — is the House going to intervene any time a legislator has an ethics complaint against him or campaign spending? I mean, it’s sort of absurd, and it’s like, no, they don’t intervene every time.”

Collins continued: “There’s a reason why they’re intervening and that’s because there is collusion between the parties. And that just complicates issues. It doesn’t simplify anything.”

Deputy Attorney General Deputy Valri Kunimoto had no comment on today’s rulings.

The House’s intervention in the case has to do with its position that it, and not the courts, has authority over evaluating the qualifications of members.

But it is also ironic, given that the current House speaker, Joe Souki, overthrew Say for the top job in 2012. Say previously unseated Souki as speaker.

A hearing is set in Nakasone’s court Sept. 18.


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