County of Hawaii v. C&J Coupe Family Ltd. P'ship

Opening Brief for the Appellant


This is the Opening Brief in the latest phase of County of Hawaii v. C&J Coupe Family Ltd. P'ship, two condemnation cases arising out of the County of Hawaii's attempts to take a Kona family's property.

This brief addresses several issues, but the most critical involve pretext and public purpose, questions left open by the U.S. Supreme Court in Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005), but which were answered, in part, by the Hawaii Supreme Court in its opinion when these cases were first before the court last year. See County of Hawaii v. C&J Coupe Family Ltd. P'ship, 119 Haw. 352, 198 P.3d 615 (2008).

In that opinion, the court held that a property owner has a right to challenge the government's assertion that a taking is for public use. In reviewing a taking, courts have an obligation to take seriously a property owner's claim that the government's stated public purpose is a pretext masking its true purposes.

The court held that the trial court erroneously accepted the County’s stated purpose at "face value," and the "single fact that a project is a road does not per se make it a public road." Id. at 381, 198 P.3d at 643. The court vacated the trial court’s approval of the taking, and remanded the case with instructions to “thoroughly consider” evidence of pretext and private benefit by examining the County’s "actual purposes," its "veracity," and by "look[ing] behind the government’s stated public purpose" with a "closer objective scrutiny of the justification being offered." Id. at 375, 198 P.3d at 638 (“[O]ur case law supports the proposition that a court can look behind the government’s stated public purpose.”).

After the remand from the Hawaii Supreme Court, the trial court again validated the taking, concluding there was "no evidence"of pretext or private benefit. This brief challenges that conclusion.

LOADING PDF: If there are any problems, click here to download the file.

Reference Info:Appellate Brief | State, 9th Circuit, Hawaii | United States

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Robert Thomas, Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert | Attorney Advertising

Written by:


Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:

Sign up to create your digest using LinkedIn*

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.

Already signed up? Log in here

*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.