Hawaii Intermediate Court: Attorneys Fee Award In Judicial Selection Commission List Case Was Reasonable

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Robert Thomas

BY ROBERT THOMAS – Remember the case from late last year in which the Honolulu Star-Advertiser brought a freedom of information/open records lawsuit against the Hawaii governor to force him to disclose the names of judicial nominees?

Abandoning the practice of his two predecessors, the Governor refused to release the list of names of nominees transmitted to him by the Judicial Selection Commission.


The trial court ruled in favor of the newspaper and ordered disclosure, and assessed the Governor attorneys fees and costs. Hawaii law makes an assessment mandatory in open records cases. [Disclosure: we represent the Star-Advertiser in this case.]

Well, last week, the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals, in this Summary Disposition Order, rejected the Governor’s appeal of the assessment. The court found no merit in most of his appeal. Judge Ginoza dissented. We won’t comment since we’re in the case, but here is the report on the decision (“Ruling over legal fees favors newspaper“), as well as the briefs that were filed in the ICA, in case you are interested:

Oahu Publications, Inc. v. Abercrombie, No. CAAP-13-0000127 (Haw. App. Oct. 18, 2013) (unpublished)

– See more at: https://www.inversecondemnation.com/#sthash.rrSWtuPd.dpuf



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Robert H. Thomas is one of the preeminent land use lawyers in Hawaii. He specializes in land use issues including regulatory takings, eminent domain, water rights, and voting rights cases. He has tried cases and appeals in Hawaii, California, and the federal courts. Robert received his LLM, with honors, from Columbia Law School where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar, and his JD from the University of Hawaii School of Law where he served as editor of the Law Review. Robert taught law at the University of Santa Clara School of Law, and was an exam grader and screener for the California Committee of Bar Examiners. He currently serves as the Chair of the Condemnation Law Committee of the American Bar Association’s Section on State & Local Government Law. He is the Hawaii member of Owners’ Counsel of America, a national network of the most experienced eminent domain and property rights lawyers. Membership in OCA is by invitation only, and is limited to a single attorney from each state. Robert is also the Managing Attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation Hawaii Center, a non-profit legal foundation dedicated to protecting property rights and individual liberties. Reach him at rht@hawaiilawyer.com He is also a frequent speaker on land use and eminent domain issues in Hawaii and nationwide. For a list of upcoming events and speaking engagements.