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Judge says Haleakala telescope protester can be recharged

Defendant plans to appeal ruling

SAMUEL KALEIKOA KAEO – Charges may be refiled

WAILUKU — Charges have been dismissed without prejudice against a Haleakala telescope protester, who could be charged again in the case.

Samuel Kaleikoa Kaeo, 51, of Kula filed a notice that he intends to appeal the court order filed last week in Wailuku District Court.

Kaeo had sought to have the charges dismissed with prejudice so he wouldn’t be charged again.

He was among six protesters arrested in the early-morning hours of Aug. 2, 2017, as dozens of protesters gathered at Kula Highway and Old Haleakala Highway to confront a large vehicle convoy carrying equipment for construction of the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope at the Haleakala summit.

Kaeo was released on his own recognizance after being charged with disorderly conduct, obstructing a highway and refusing to comply with a police officer’s order.

During a hearing last month, Judge Kelsey Kawano dismissed the charges due to violation of the right to a speedy trial because more than six months had passed without Kaeo’s case going to trial.

Kawano found that 230 days had passed, exceeding the 180-day time limit for a speedy trial. He said at the hearing that he would issue a written order on whether the dismissal would be with prejudice or without prejudice.

The court order, filed July 26, said three factors — the seriousness of the offense, facts and circumstances leading to the dismissal and the impact of reprosecution on speedy trial rights and the administration of justice — had to be considered in deciding whether charges should be dismissed with or without prejudice.

The first factor, the seriousness of the offenses, weighed in favor of the defendant, the order said, noting that Kaeo was charged with petty misdemeanor offenses, each carrying penalties of up to 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The reasons for the delay were attributed to the court, as well as both the defense and prosecution.

Some of the delay was attributed to Kaeo’s desire to have proceedings conducted solely in the Hawaiian language and his refusal to enter his appearance in the English language, according to the order. Neither the defense nor the prosecution asked the court to set a trial within the six-month speedy trial timeline during a March 21 court hearing.

As for the impact of reprosecution, the order said the prosecution hadn’t shown lack of diligence and there was no prejudice to the defendant.

“The public interest would be served in bringing defendant to justice, and, establish that the rule of law must prevail where defendant claims to have acted with righteous purpose,” the order said.

“Defendant’s assertion of his cultural beliefs and of aboriginal traditional and customary practices and rights are issues of significant public interest,” the order said. “Recognition of these rights cannot be accomplished by alleged illegal acts nor vindicated by a default of 50 days.”

The prosecution has said it plans to reprosecute Kaeo.

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at lfujimoto@mauinews.com.

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