Big Island Video News: Mauna Kea and the Occupied Hawaiian Kingdom

Talk story with Dr. David Keanu Sai and attorney Dexter Kaiama in Hilo concerning the international ramifications of the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea, and the growing awareness of the continued existence of the occupied Hawaiian Kingdom.

by David Corrigan

HILO – Inspired by the kapu aloha on display during the blockade of the Thirty Meter Telescope, Hawaii residents are flocking to Mauna Kea. Last Thursday, 31 people were arrested in connection with the blockade of the $1.4 billion observatory. However, the incident only strengthened the support for the protectors of the sacred mountain. On Monday, two figures active on the international front lines of the Hawaiian Kingdom joined the gathering.

Big Island Video News interviewed Dr. David Keanu Sai and attorney Dexter Kaiama about the latest developments on Mauna Kea and the international response.

In 1994 a State of Hawai‘i Court asked “Does the Hawaiian Kingdom Continue to Exist?”

What many people may not know is that it was the State of Hawai‘i Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA) in 1994 that established a landmark and precedent case where defendants have the burden to provide a factual or legal basis that would conclude the Hawaiian Kingdom continues to exist as a state when they are challenging the jurisdiction of the trial courts. This case is State of Hawai‘i v. Lorenzo. This has been an open legal question and not a political question that has been before the courts in Hawai‘i for the past twenty-one years. It was conclusively answered “yes” in another landmark case State of Hawai‘i v. English during an evidentiary hearing on March 5, 2015.

The Lorenzo case was in response to the United States Congressional apology for the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom government on January 17, 1893—U.S. Public Law 103-150. In 1993, the Congress admitted to the United States’ illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian government, but it did not admit to the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom as a state. A government is not a state in international law. A state is a sovereign country that is a member of the family of nations, while a government is the physical body that exercises the sovereign authority of the country. State and country are synonymous, and history shows that while governments were overthrown, it doesn’t mean that countries were overthrown. Examples include the overthrow of the Japanese government by the Allied countries in 1945 during World War II, the overthrow of the Kuwaiti government by Iraq in 1990 during the Gulf War, and the overthrow of the Iraqi government in 2003 by the United States during the Iraq War.

The Lorenzo case addressed this very issue of whether or not the Hawaiian state still exists despite the admitted illegal overthrow of its government in 1893. There has been a common misunderstanding that treats the overthrow of the Hawaiian government synonymous with the overthrow of the Hawaiian state. The Lorenzo case distinguishes the two and concluded that this is an open legal question. If the Hawaiian state continues to exist, then the State of Hawai‘i (USA) cannot legally exist in the Hawaiian Islands.

In 1991, Anthony Lorenzo was tried in the First Circuit Court after being indicted on criminal charges of failing to render assistance after being involved in an automobile accident, driving without a license, and negligent injury. A pre-trial motion to dismiss the indictment was filed claiming that the State of Hawai‘i had no jurisdiction over him because the Hawaiian Kingdom still existed as a sovereign nation. The trial judge denied the motion to dismiss, which became the basis for the appeal to the ICA in 1994.

Walter HeenJudge Walter Heen, who authored the Lorenzo judgment, wrote, “The essence of the lower court’s decision is that even if, as Lorenzo contends, the 1893 overthrow of the Kingdom was illegal, that would not affect the court’s jurisdiction in this case. Although the court’s rationale is open to question in light of international law, the record indicates that the decision was correct because Lorenzo did not meet his burden of proving his defense of lack of jurisdiction. Therefore, we must affirm the judgment.” Judge Heen concluded, “it was incumbent on Defendant to present evidence supporting his claim. Lorenzo has presented no factual (or legal) basis for concluding that the Kingdom exists as a state in accordance with recognized attributes of a state’s sovereign nature. Consequently, his argument that he is subject solely to the Kingdom’s jurisdiction is without merit, and the lower court correctly exercised jurisdiction over him.”

In the ICA decision, Judge Heen provided the definition of a state as “an entity that has a defined territory and a permanent population, under the control of its own government, and that engages in, or has the capacity to engage in, formal relations with other such entities.” A careful reading of this definition clearly distinguishes the state from its government, where the “state” is “under the control of its own government.” The government is not the state.

Judge Heen also stated, “The illegal overthrow leaves open the question whether the present governance system should be recognized, even though the illegal overthrow predated the United Nations Charter.” The Lorenzo case put forth a legal question in both State of Hawai‘i and Federal Courts in the Hawaiian Islands, as well as bringing in international law. This legal question has profound consequences that centers on whether the Hawaiian Kingdom as a state exists or not. It is international law that will determine the existence of the Hawaiian state, and not the laws of the United States.

In the Nishitani v. Baker (1996), Judge Corrine Watanabe of the ICA stated, “In retrospect, our statement in Lorenzo that a criminal defendant has the burden of proving his or her defense of lack of jurisdiction may have generated some confusion. [Hawai‘i Revised Statutes] specifically provides that in a criminal case, a defendant may not be convicted unless the State proves beyond a reasonable doubt ‘facts establishing jurisdiction.’ The burden of proving jurisdiction thus clearly rests with the prosecution. However, where immunity claims are raised as a defense to jurisdiction, the burden is on the defendant to establish his or her immunity status.”

For the past twenty-one years, judges at the trial court level have consistently denied requests by defendants to dismiss either criminal or civil complaints filed in the State of Hawai‘i and Federal courts on the grounds that the Hawaiian Kingdom continues to exist. These judges have relied on the Lorenzo case to deny the requests. When these decisions are taken on appeal, the ICA has routinely upheld the judgments by citing the Lorenzo case, “Because the defendant had ‘presented no factual (or legal) basis for concluding that the Kingdom exists as a state in accordance with recognized attributes of a state’s sovereign nature,’ we determined that the defendant had failed to meet his burden of proving his defense of lack of jurisdiction.”

The ICA cited the burden of the Lorenzo case was not met by the defendants in a total of forty-one appeals between 1994 and 2014, and the Hawai‘i Supreme Court during this same period cited the same failure of defendants to provide a “factual (or legal) basis for concluding that the Kingdom exists as a state” in six appeals. In total there have been forty-seven appeals that cited the landmark Lorenzo case that was decided on October 20, 1994. What isn’t accounted for, however, is how many trial courts denied defendants motions to dismiss that did not make it to an appeal.

In all of these cases that came before the State of Hawai‘i appellate courts, the defendants provided evidence of some sort, but the Lorenzo case required the defendants to provide evidence that is “conclusive,” and not just evidence. Conclusive is evidence that is “indisputable” between the prosecution or plaintiff and the defense. In order to overcome this hurdle of “indisputability,” which is a very high standard, the defendants need to have an evidentiary hearing where the rules of evidence are applied. It is in the evidentiary hearing that the defendants can introduce evidence that the Hawaiian Kingdom continues to exist as a state according to the Lorenzo case. The prosecution or the plaintiff, however, cannot object to the evidence for the sake of objecting. They have to provide counter-evidence. If they object by providing counter-evidence then the evidence is considered “disputable,” and therefore would not meet the burden of the Lorenzo case where it has to be “indisputable” making the evidence “conclusive” that the Kingdom exists as a state.

One way to get the evidence to be recognized as “indisputable” and “conclusive” would be to have the court take “judicial notice” of the defendant’s evidence under Rules 201 and 202 of the Hawai‘i Rules of Evidence. Black’s Law Dictionary (p. 848, 6th ed. 1990) defines judicial notice as the “act by which a court recognizes the existence and truth of certain facts.” Under Rule 201 is judicial notice of “adjudicative facts,” and Rule 202 is judicial notice of laws. When Judge Cardoza took judicial notice of Dr. Keanu Sai’s legal brief titled, “The Continuity of the Hawaiian State and the Legitimacy of the acting Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom,” at the request of the defense during the evidentiary hearing on March 5, 2015 in State v. English at the Second Circuit Court on the Island of Maui, it included both “adjudicative facts” and “laws.”

Throughout the evidentiary hearing, the prosecution did not object to Dr. Sai’s expert testimony that the Hawaiian Kingdom continues to exist as a state under international law, and it didn’t object to the Judge taking judicial notice of Dr. Sai’s brief that concludes the existence of the Hawaiian state. By not objecting during an evidentiary hearing, the prosecution was in agreement with the evidence being presented. What is extremely important during a criminal proceeding is the appearance of fairness and due process because the defendants are facing a judgment that could lead to imprisonment. In other words, the only way for the prosecution to object to the evidence presented by the defendants is that it must show counter evidence. Without counter evidence, the prosecution cannot object for the sake of objecting. To do so would be to violate the defendants’ right to a fair trial and due process.

State v. English is a landmark case, because the judge took judicial notice of adjudicative facts and laws that concludes the Hawaiian Kingdom continues to exist as a state under international law. The evidentiary ruling made by Judge Cardoza during a fair evidentiary proceeding has “conclusively” determined that there is a “factual (or legal) basis for concluding that the Kingdom exists as a state.” In 21 years of case law (common law), the English case has finally and conclusively answered the legal question presented by Judge Heen in the Lorenzo case in 1994.


The forty-one cases heard by the ICA using the Lorenzo case are: State v. French, 77 Haw. 222, 228, 883 P.2d 644, 650 (1994); Nishitani v. Baker, 82 Hawai‘i 281, 289, 921 P.2d 1182, 1190 (1996); Chalon Int’l of Haw. v. Makuaole, 95 Haw. 243, 20 P.3d 676 (2000); State v. Sherman, 95 Haw. 243, 20 P.3d 676 (2000); State v. Joshua, Haw. App. LEXIS 247 (2001); State v. Moore, Haw. App. LEXIS 242 (2001); State v. Lindsey, 98 Haw. 142, 44 P.3d 293 (2002); State v. Miyahira, 98 Haw. 287, P.3d 754 (2002); State v. Keawemauhili, 101 Haw. 330, 76 P.3d 829 (2003); Makapono Partners, LLC v. Simeona, Haw. App. LEXIS 120 (2003); State v. Araujo, 103 Haw. 508, 83 P.3d 771 (2004); Betsill Bros. Constr., Inc. v. Akahi, Haw. App. LEXIS 218 (2004); State v. Keli‘ikoa, 105 Haw. 92, 93 P.3d 1199 (2004); State v. Fergerstrom, 106 Haw. 41, 101 P.3d 225 (2004); State v. Tanaka, 106 Haw. 246, 103 P.3d 406 (2004); State v. Spinney, 106 Haw. 389, 105 P.3d 266 (2005); State v. Ball, 113 Haw. 507, 155 P.3d 690 (2007); State v. Steffey, Haw. App. LEXIS (2008); State v. Nakatsu, Haw. App. LEXIS (2008); State v. Ampong, 120 Haw. 255, 203 P.3d 675 (2009); State v. Makekau, 121 Haw. 202, 216 P.3d 128 (2009); State v. Rodenhurst, Haw. App. LEXIS 588 (2010); State v. Craig-Rodenhurst, Haw. App. LEXIS 664 (2011); State v. Kaluau, 125 Haw. 251, 258 P.3d 948 (2011); RMS Residential Properties, LLC v. Valdez, 125 Haw. 475, 264 P.3d 53 (2011); Burgo v. State, 127 Haw. 240, 277 P.3d 334 (2012); State v. Au, 128 Haw. 476, 290 P.3d 546 (2012); State v. Kawa‘auhau, 128 Haw. 477, 290 P.3d 547 (2012); Federal National Mortgage Association v. Bise, 129 Haw. 268, 297 P.3d 1124 (2013); Wells Fargo Bank N.A. v. Armitage, 129 Haw. 295, 298 P.3d 1059 (2013); Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation v. Griep, 129 Haw. 425, 301 P.3d 1266 (2013); Deutsche Bank National Trust Company v. Pa‘a, 130 Haw. 302, 309 P.3d 970 (2013); State v. Armitage, 129 Haw. 425, 301 P.3d 1266 (2013); Federal National Mortgage Association v. Duarte, 129 Haw. 452, 303 P.3d 1229 (2013); First Hawaiian Bank v. Kamakea, 129 Haw. 452, 303 P.3d 1229 (2013); The Bank of New York Mellon v. Velez, 129 Haw. 426, 301 P.3d 1267 (2013); U.S. Bank National Association v. Shim-Palama, 129 Haw. 427, 301 P.3d 1268 (2013); State v. Palama, 129 Haw. 428, 301 P.3d 1269 (2013); Federal National Mortgage Association v. Barros, 129 Haw. 449, 302 P.3d 717 (2013); State v. Kana‘ele, 132 Haw. 518, 323 P.3d 162 (2014); State v. Kanaka‘ole, 132 Haw. 518, 323 P.3d 162 (2014).

The six cases heard by the Supreme Court using the Lorenzo case are: State v. Lee, 90 Haw. 130, 976 P.2d 444 (1999); State v. Sinagoga, Haw. LEXIS 135 (2002); State v. Fergerstrom, Haw. LEXIS 254 (2004); State v. Rodenhurst, Haw. LEXIS 280 (2010); State v. Kaulia, 128 Haw. 479, 291 P.3d 377 (2013); State v. Armitage, 132 Haw. 36, 319 P.3d 1044 (2014).