Editor's Note: We are reprinting verbatim a March 7, 2018 letter from Kauai County Attorney Mauna Kea Trask responding to a March 5, 2018 letter from the Coco Palms protesters demanding for $200M 'rent'.
March 7, 2018
Noa K. Mau-Espirito
Charles D. Hepa
5001 Laukona Street
Lihue, HI 96766
Re: Kingdom of the Hawaiian Islands Notice to Quit or Pay Rent
Aloha Mr. Mau-Espirito & Hepa,
Please accept this response in regard to the above captioned Notice to Quit or Pay Rent (“Notice”) received by the Office of the County Attorney on March 5, 2018. For the reasons stated infra the County politely declines to “quit” or “pay rent”.
1. The County does not recognize “The Hawaiian Judiciary Court of the Sovereign” as a lawful court with any jurisdiction whatsoever. Both Federal and State case law is clear that the Hawaiian Kingdom does not exist as a current lawful government.
“Whatever may be said regarding the lawfulness of the Provisional Government in 1893, the Republic of Hawai'i in 1894, and the Territory of Hawai'i in 1898, the State of Hawai'i was, on February 9, 2002, and is now, a lawful government.” State v. Fergerstrom, 106 Haw. 43 101 P.3d 652 (2004); affirming Nishitani v. Baker, 82 Hawai'i 281, 921 P.2d 1182 (1996), and State v. Lorenzo, 77 Hawai'i 219, 883 P.2d 641(1994). See also Us v Lorenzo, (1993) 995 F.2d 1448 (9th Cir. 1993).
As a matter of fact the real Kingdom of Hawaii’s lower courts were called the “Superior Court of Hawaii” and the Kingdom’s highest court was called the “Supreme Court of the Kingdom of Hawaii.” Your “Court of the Sovereign” appears to be a fictitious court created and or inspired by the larger national “sovereign citizens” movement which is not a Native Hawaiian movement or Native Hawaiian organization but instead began in the continental United States in the early 1970s with ties to white supremacy and whose ideology later matured in the 1980s. According to materials from the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League, during the late 1990s the sovereign citizen movement began forming scores of vigilante “common law courts” that attempted to intimidate both private citizens and governmental officials into performing some kind of action, usually paying demands for inordinate sums of money exactly like you are attempting to do. Case law throughout the United States clearly establishes that such courts have no authority to compel any action by anyone at all. Furthermore, according to official court documents of the State of Hawaii, Moses Enoka Heanu, the alleged “Chief Justice” of your “court” is a registered sex offender who was sentenced to five (5) years in prison for three (3) felony counts of sexual assault in the Third Circuit court of the State of Hawaii in 1998.
2. Although you make general reference to “laws” in the “State of Hawaii”, no specific authority is provided to explain what precise laws you are operating under or how you are legally entitled to $200,000,000,000 (Two hundred million dollars) (sic)1. Finally, no explanation is given as to what a “Notice to Quit or Pay Rent” is. According to Black’s Law Dictionary, Fifth Ed., West Publishing 1979, a “Notice to Quit” is:
“A written notice given by a landlord to his tenant, stating that the former desires to repossess himself of the demised premises, and that the latter is required to quit and remove from the same at a time designated, either at the expiration of the term, if the tenant is in under a lease, or immediately, if the tenancy is at will or by sufferance.”
If this is what you intended then the county declines any such demand as you are not a “landlord” as defined by Hawaii revised Statutes (“H.R.S”) §521-8, nor is the County a “tenant” as defined by the same.
3. Finally, the County does not have interest, whether possessory or otherwise in any of the listed properties contained in your Notice whatsoever. According to the records and files of the County Real Property tax office the listed owners of the property are either the State of Hawaii or Coco Palms Hui, LLC.
In conclusion the County of Kauai declines to recognize or comply with the demands in your Notice referenced above.
Mauna Kea Trask
1) The Notice seeks “$200,000,000,000 (Two hundred million dollars).” As written the numerical value of the numbers in your Notice is Two hundred billion dollars, not million dollars. Normally the written alphabetical value controls over the numerical one. Attempts to contact you to clarify this matter via telephone from March 6th to 7th 2018 were unsuccessful.
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PDF: Protesters $200M Demand Letter
PDF: Full Text of County Attorney Response
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Trask: Coco Palms Occupiers Duped by White Supremacist ‘Sovereign Citizens’
Kauai Garden Isle, March 9, 2018 (excerpts)
…County Attorney Mauna Kea Trask on Thursday cautioned activists who occupied the grounds of the former Coco Palms resort and continue attempting to win title to the property that they are basing their arguments on the authority of a fake court whose “chief justice” is a registered sex offender.
The individual identified as chief justice was convicted of three felony counts of sexual assault in 1998 and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, according to a letter signed by Trask Thursday morning….
Trask added that the non-existent “Court of the Sovereign” also does not have the same name as any actual court that existed during the tenure of the Hawaiian Kingdom….
The letter speculated that the Coco Palms occupiers had been unwittingly misled by Mainland organizations “with ties to white supremacy.” Trask contended that some Hawaiian independence groups have advocated for “sovereign citizens” unbound by laws of a specific country. (Editor's Note: See 2011 article.)
The observations came in a letter signed by Trask and sent Thursday to Noa Mau-Espirito and Charles Hepa, the two chief organizers of the Coco Palms occupation. A day before, the two men sent Trask and Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. a document headed “Notice to quit or pay rent” that cited the alleged Court of the Sovereign in a wide array of demands of county and state officials, two lawyers and a title company in Honolulu that they pay back rent for the property that, Mau-Espirito and Hepa said, amounts to $200 million….
Their earlier filing and the document received by the mayor and county attorney’s office this week asserted authority of “The Hawaiian Judiciary, Court of the Sovereign” which, according to these documents, is presided over by “Chief Justice” Moses Enoka Heanu.
For several weeks, rumors had circulated (Hawai'i Free Press Feb 13 reported) that Heanu is a registered sex offender who resides on Hawaii Island. Trask said his office, working with state legal authorities, had verified that the supposed chief justice is the same person listed on the sex offender registry….
Trask said the description of the activities of the “Court of the Sovereign” recycle terminology of white supremacist groups and contended that made up “common law courts” have no authority and exist “to intimidate both private citizens and governmental officials.” Such courts, and the fictional Court of the Sovereign, “have no authority to compel any action by anyone at all.”
Trask cited materials on racist groups maintained by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks racist organizations as mirroring wording commonly used during the Coco Palms occupation….
Trask also sent a memorandum to a variety of state officials “regarding legal information on general Native Hawaiian sovereignty claims.” The memo emphasized it was not a legal document in and of itself but had been prepared to try to respond to numerous questions about the Coco Palms occupation that have flooded the mayor’s and other county offices….
On Thursday afternoon, no people were visible in the former encampment off Kuamoo Road in Wailua. Several tents and a portable toilet were still in place and two small pickup trucks were parked in the area the occupiers had used….
read … Trask: No such court