Maui News

Hawaiʻi Supreme Court oral argument scheduled for lawsuit challenging Maui houseless sweeps 

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Sonia Davis, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit. PC: ACLU Hawaiʻi

The Hawaiʻi Supreme Court has scheduled an oral argument on Dec. 14, 2023, for the lawsuit against Maui County challenging a September 2021 houseless sweep at Amala Place near Kanahā Beach Park.

The lawsuit, filed in October 2021 by the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai‘i (ACLU of Hawaiʻi) on behalf of several houseless plaintiffs, alleges the county violated the due process rights of houseless residents at Puʻuhonua o Kanahā. The lawsuit alleges the county failed to provide adequate notice and ignored Plaintiffs’ written requests for a contested case.

Sonia Davis, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit. PC: ACLU Hawaiʻi

“Even after all this time, it’s painful to think about everything we lost and all that we went through during that sweep. I just don’t want others to have to go through what we did,” said Sonia Davis, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, when asked about what she experienced during the September 2021 sweep at Amala Place.


In earlier press releases and commentary, the County of Maui reported that crews removed 58 tons of solid waste and 54 derelict vehicles during the cleanup, and said actions taken “were sympathetic to care for those in need.” State officials said they were concerned about the potential health hazards from trash and waste in the area of Kanahā Pond.

ACLU of Hawaiʻi legal director, Wookie Kim said, “… neither the Hawaiʻi nor the US constitution allows the government to disregard due process protections simply because someone is not permanently housed in a structure with four walls and a roof. The government must respect due process for everyone, at all times. Our clients are asking the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court to uphold this fundamental principle.”

Kanahā/Amala Place cleanup. PC: (9.21.21) DLNR Hawaiʻi

“This case is a rare opportunity to hold the County accountable and shift the landscape for unhoused people across Hawaiʻi,” said Lisa Darcy a houseless community advocate with Share Your Mana.


While cleanups have been done to ensure cleanliness and ensure public safety, Darcy said, “This does not capture the emotional, financial, and physical harm inflicted by sweeps.  It does not reveal the cost to one’s health and safety to have to replace items necessary for basic survival, or the massive burden and time it takes to replace IDs and important documents. It sanitizes state-organized violence against people who, due to economic deprivation and untreated disabilities, are forced to live on the street or in their cars. For houseless communities, sweeps bring trauma, destabilization, and displacement,” said Darcy.

The case will be heard on Thursday, Dec. 14 2023, from 2 to 3 p.m. at Aliʻiōlani Hale (417 South King Street, Honolulu, HI 96813). The oral argument will be streamed live on the Hawai‘i State Judiciary’s YouTube page:


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