The Honolulu City Council passed three resolutions to spend up to $220,000 to fund the city’s defense in two lawsuits relating to the Honolulu rail project and the seizure of homeless people’s property, and a criminal case involving a police officer.

The Council approved spending up to $100,000 in legal fees to McCorriston Miller Mukai MacKinnon LLP to defend against an American Civil Liberties Union complaint that contends the city’s enforcement of stored property and sidewalk nuisance ordinances violates the constitutional rights of homeless people.

On Tuesday, the ACLU filed a motion alleging city officials lied about throwing away homeless people’s property.

The Council also approved up to $100,000 in legal fees to hire Starn O’Toole Marcus & Fisher to defend the city against a lawsuit brought by Abigail Kawananakoa, a descendent of Hawaiian royalty who argues there are at least 11 rail-related City Council votes that could be invalid because city lawmakers failed to disclose their conflicts of interest.

The Council also approved spending up to $20,000 to retain attorney Thomas Otake to represent Officer Siave Seti, Jr. in a case brought by the state Attorney General. Seti was caught on tape slamming a Palolo Valley resident onto the sidewalk.

According to the resolutions, the Office of Corporation Counsel said that it didn’t have expertise in criminal law to defend Seti in-house. The department also said that limited resources prevent them from handling the ACLU case and that retaining outside counsel for the rail case provides needed expertise.

How much do you value our journalism?

Civil Beat focuses exclusively on the kind of journalism most at risk of disappearing – in-depth, investigative and enterprise coverage of important local issues. While producing this type of journalism isn’t cheap, you won’t find our content hidden behind a paywall. We also never worry about upsetting advertisers – because we don’t allow any. As a nonprofit newsroom, we rely on donations from readers like you to help keep our stories free and accessible to everyone. If you value our journalism, show us with your support.

 

About the Author