VIDEO: Court Says Lahaina Halloween to Proceed

October 27, 2011, 4:55 PM HST · Updated October 29, 6:24 PM
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By Wendy Osher

The Halloween festivities on Front Street in Lahaina will go on as planned following a ruling by a Maui judge on Thursday (October 27, 2011).

Second Circuit Court Judge Rhonda Loo dissolved a request for a temporary restraining order that sought to prevent Halloween festivities from proceeding.

“In balancing all of the equities, the scales do tip very heavily in favor of the defendants,” said Judge Loo.

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“Canceling this event will not prevent the harm suggested by the plaintiffs, but will irreparably harm members of the Lahaina community,” said Loo who reviewed declarations submitted by merchants, restaurant owners and hotel people from the Lahaina.

“It is clear to the court,” said Judge Loo, “that they do depend heavily upon the revenue generated by this Halloween event on October 31st.”

Defense Response:

Jane Lovell, Deputy Corp. Counsel, Maui. Photo by Wendy Osher.

“The county understands completely that the Halloween events in Lahaina are somewhat controversial in some segments of the society,” said Jane Lovell, Deputy Corporation Counsel, representing defendants with the County of Maui.

“We understand that people can’t always agree, however, the county has tried very hard to take everyone’s comments into consideration and to make sure that the event that’s going to take place there on Monday is safe, fun and family friendly,” said Lovell.

“We believe that there are safeguards in place to protect historic sites and to protect anyone, whether Native Hawaiian or not from any kind of offensive behavior,” she said.  “We believe that the judge’s ruling is correct as a matter of law, and we’re very grateful that this family event can take place as scheduled on Halloween,” said Lovell.

Mayor Alan Arakawa, who was named as one of the defendants, was not in court today, but issued the following statement:

“We are pleased with the court’s decision to allow the county to have a safe Halloween in Lahaina.  In years past when we did not close down Front Street it made the event hazardous, with people overflowing off the sidewalk and onto the street and walking alongside traffic,” said the mayor.

“We would like to thank all of the businesses and community members who worked with us to make this a safe and fun, family-friendly event for everyone. Please join us in having a happy Halloween,” said Mayor Arakawa.

Plaintiff Response:

“Right now I’m just trying to absorb all of this.  I know all of the different feelings are going through my mind right now,” said plaintiff Richard Dancil.

Although the court issued a ruling in favor of the defense, Dancil called the proceedings a stepping stone, and said plans will move forward to dispute the Halloween festivities.

Dancil described his emotion as close to the edge.  “It’s not dying physically, but I feel that it’s a type of dying culturally, psychologically,” he said.

Despite being born on Maui, Dancil said he feels as though he’s being treated like a stranger.

Plaintiff attorney Keoni Agard called the ruling disappointing, saying, “perhaps we will take a look at some other ways of addressing the issue,” but said, at this point, it’s too early to say just how the group will proceed.

Explanation of Ruling:

Members of the group Na Makua O Maui join in prayer prior to the TRO Halloween ruling in Maui's 2nd Circuit court. Photo by Wendy Osher.

“The court does find that the plaintiff failed to exhaust their administrative remedies as required by law,” said Judge Rhonda Loo.

Regarding plaintiff Na Makua O Maui, Judge Loo said,  “the court finds that the complaint contains no allegations regarding Na Makua O Maui’s legal status, members, purpose, or geographic location.”

“It is clear to the court that in the absence of an enabling statute, an unincorporated association cannot sue or be sued in its common or associate name–therefore, the court does find as far as plaintiff Na Makua O Maui is concerned, they do lack legal capacity to sue.”

In regards to plaintiff Richard Dancil, Judge Loo said, “It appears to the court as well that neither the complaint, nor the TRO, establishes that Mr. Dancil has standing.  Mr. Dancil himself must establish that he himself is being harmed; he must allege injuries to himself, and he has not done so.”

2nd Circuit Court Judge Rhonda Loo raises a stack of declarations the court received in as part of the TRO review. Photo by Wendy Osher.

“At the very least,” said Judge Loo, “Mr. Dancil cannot establish that he has met the third prong of the Sierra Club case–namely that a favorable decision is likely to provide relief for his injury.  That being so, the court finds that plaintiff Dancil lacks standing as well.”

“Therefore, because Na Makua O Maui lacks the legal capacity to sue, and plaintiff Dancil fails to allege concrete facts sufficient to give him standing, the court does not have jurisdiction over these claims.”

“Even if the court did have jurisdiction, the court finds that the plaintiffs have not demonstrated that they are entitled to injunctive relief.”

Richard Dancil. Photo by Wendy Osher.

 

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