By Susan Halas
Circuit Court Judge Joseph Cardoza faced a full courtroom of Iao Stream squatters on Friday, December 30.
More than 40 adults and several children filled the courtroom in response to notice given by Kehalani Holding Company Inc. seeking to remove them from the property owned by Oahu developer Stanford Carr.
A lesser number came forward to give their names and contact information in order to preserve their legal rights and avoid an automatic default judgment in the dispute.
At issue is the right of the large group to occupy the property adjacent to the Iao Stream across from the Millyard in Wailuku. The judge set January 19 as the deadline for those who appeared to file a response.
Those in court were part of a larger group estimated at between 100-200 residents living in a pair of makeshift camps which have grown steadily in size since about 2006.
Carr, the owner of 34 acres of agricultural land where the group has constructed a shantytown, faces fines from the County of Maui running into millions of dollars for the illegal structures and accumulated debris of the residents, most of whom remain unnamed. He was not present at the hearing and was represented by attorney B. Martin Luna of the law firm Carlsmith Ball.
Sylvia and Abraham Aki were represented by attorney Darren Russell. The others, many of whom were of Hawaiian ancestry, were not represented by counsel.