Articles Posted in Hawaii Supreme Court

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In June 2004, Petitioners-Appellants Hui O Na Wai 'Eha and Maui Tomorrow Foundation, Inc. (Hui/MTF), through Earthjustice, petitioned Appellee Commission on Water Resource Management to amend the Interim Instream Flow Standards (IIFS) for Na Wai 'Eha, which had been in place since 1988. Around the same time, several parties, including Appellee Maui County Department of Water Supply (MDWS), and Appellees Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company (HC&S) and Wailuku Water Company (WWC), filed Water Use Permit Applications (WUPA) for the same area. The Commission held a combined case hearing to resolve the IIFS and WUPA; in addition to the petitioner and applicants, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) applied to participate in the hearing. The appeal before the Supreme Court sought review of the Commission's resulting Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law (FOF/COL), and Decision and Order (D&O), in which the Commission amended the IIFS for two of the four streams, and substantially retained the existing IIFS for the two remaining streams as measured above diversions. The FOF/COL and D&O also resolved several WUPA. Hui/MTF and OHA appealed on related grounds: their primary complaint was that the Commission erred in balancing instream and noninstream uses, and therefore the IIFS does not properly protect traditional and customary native Hawaiian rights, appurtenant water rights, or the public trust. Both parties also contested the Commission’s treatment of diversions, including an alternative source on HC&S’s plantation that could have been used to irrigate HC&S’s cane fields. The parties contested the Commission’s determination that HC&S would not be required to pump the alternate source to its full capacity, a decision that resulted in a higher estimated allowable diversion for HC&S, and lower IIFS for the streams. Upon review, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings. First, in considering the effect of the IIFS on native Hawaiian practices in Na Wai 'Eha, the Commission failed to enter findings of fact and conclusions of law regarding the effect of the amended IIFS on traditional and customary native Hawaiian practices regarding the feasibility of protecting any affected practices. Second, the Commission’s analysis of instream uses was incomplete. Third, the Commission erred in its consideration of alternative water sources and in its calculation of diverting parties’ acreage and reasonable system losses. View "In re 'Iao Ground Water Management Area High-Level Source Water Use Permit Applications" on Justia Law

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This case arose from the 2008 application of the Honolulu Department of Environmental Services (DES) for a special use permit (SUP) to expand an existing sanitary landfill. The Land Use Commission (LUC) approved the SUP subject to, inter alia, a condition prohibiting the landfill from accepting municipal solid waste after July 31, 2012. The validity of this condition was the sole issue raised by DES on appeal. The Supreme Court vacated the circuit court's judgment affirming the LUC's approval of the SUP, holding (1) the condition was inconsistent with the evidence shown in the record and was not supported by substantial evidence; and (2) because the LUC's approval of the SUP was expressly given subject to the LUC's imposition of the condition, the court's judgment must be vacated. Remanded. View "Dep't of Envtl. Servs. v. Land Use Comm'n" on Justia Law

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Landowners brought this lawsuit against their neighbor, seeking compensation for property damage caused by the neighbor, and seeking a determination of access and water rights. The application before the Supreme Court, however, raised questions concerning procedural aspects of the hearings before the trial court and of the appeal to the intermediate court of appeals (ICA). The first question concerned pleading standards of appellate briefs, and the remaining questions addressed the trial court's determination of which parties must participate in a lawsuit, and the procedure an appellate court should follow when reviewing that determination. The Court reversed the decision of the ICA and reinstated the trial court's order, holding (1) the ICA did not err in reviewing the defendants' points of error on appeal; but (2) the ICA erred in vacating the trial court's final judgment. View "Marvin v. Pflueger" on Justia Law

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Petitioner filed a petition for a contested case hearing on the Commission on Water Resource Management's amendment of interim flow standards for certain Maui streams. The Commission denied Petitioner's petition in a decision that was reflected in the minutes of the Commission's meeting. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) dismissed Petitioner's appeal for lack of jurisdiction, concluding that the meeting minutes were not a final order because the document was not signed by any member of the Commission pursuant to Haw. Admin. R. 13-167-7(c). The Supreme Court vacated the ICA's decision, holding that the Commission's decision, as reflected in the meeting minutes, was a final decision of the Commission for which judicial review could be sought because the Acting Deputy Director to the Chairperson of the Board of Land and Natural Resources authenticated the Commission's decision in accordance with section 13-167-7(c). Remanded. View "In re Petition to Amend Interim Instream Flow Standards for Maui Streams" on Justia Law