Hawaiians Unite

"A ia hoi, nani ka maika'i a me ka oluolu, O ka noho lokahi pu ana o na hoahanau!" "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" Psalm 133:1

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ruling on Kamehameha's petition to reveal identity of Doe plaintiffs

Judge orders disclosure of names in Kamehameha Schools case

By Rick Daysog
Advertiser Staff Writer

A federal judge today ruled that the names of the students seeking to overturn Kamehameha Schools' Hawaiian-preference admission policy must be made public.

In a 22-page ruling, U.S. Magistrate Barry Kurren said the names of the four anonymous students challenging the 121-year-old admissions policy will be disclose 10 days from today.

"The severity of the threatened harm and the reasonableness of plaintiffs' fears do not weigh in favor of anonymity," Kurren wrote.

"At most, plaintiffs are vulnerable children who have a reasonable fear of social ostracization."
David Rosen, attorney for the students, declined comment. A spokesman for the Kamehameha Schools could not be reached.

Parents for the students — who are simply known as Jacob, Janet, Karl and Lisa Doe — have said in court papers that they may drop the lawsuit if the children are not allowed to pursue their lawsuit anonymously. The four, who are not of Hawaiian ancestry, applied for admission to Kamehameha in 2008-09 school year, but were rejected.

Kurren's ruling came after he held a one-and-a-half hour, closed door hearing on the matter on Oct. 21.

By issuing a 10-day stay to his ruling, Kurren allowed the student and their parents to consider whether to pursue the action. The stay also allows the Does' attorneys to appeal the ruling to U.S. District Judge Michael Seabright, who is assigned to the case.

Rosen and California attorney Eric Grant have said disclosing the students' identities is will expose them to public humiliation and retaliation and "would almost certainly cause them to abandon the case."

They cited a number a number of anonymous threats posted on the Internet and hostile remarks attached to the comments sections on local news stories about the admissions controversy.

Attorneys for the trust -- Paul Alston and former Stanford University Law School Dean Kathleen Sullivan -- said the anonymity allows the Does' lawyers to portray their clients in a sympathetic light but would give the trust no means to say whether that portrayal is accurate.

They also noted that in the previous lawsuit challenging the school's admission policy, Grant's co-counsel John Goemans abused his client's anonymous status by leaking out the details of a confidential $7 million settlement.