ARTIFACTS CASE: JUDGE EZRA ACTED RESPONSIBLY
This letter responds to Jonathan K. Osorio's Jan. 5 letter entitled "Judge Ezra vs. Hawaiian beliefs." We are writing on behalf of the Hawai'i Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, whose members are lawyers working in the federal judicial system.
Because federal judges cannot comment outside of the courtroom about cases before them, we are responding to professor Osorio's unfair criticism of Judge David Ezra's handling of the Kawaihae Cave artifacts case.
As an initial matter, it is regrettable that professor Osorio would make this kind of highly personalized and, in our opinion, biased and agenda-driven attack against Judge Ezra and the judiciary over the judge's handling of the case.
Judge Ezra is not against Hawaiians, nor is he against Hawaiian beliefs. Indeed, his record on the bench clearly reflects sympathy for and an understanding of Hawaiian issues.
Lest The Advertiser's headline further confuse the issue, we would like to point out that Judge Ezra did not file a suit "vs." Hawaiians or their beliefs. The plaintiffs brought the dispute about the Kawaihae artifacts to the Hawai'i Federal District Court in search of a judicial resolution. The case was assigned to Judge Ezra by random assignment.
We are a nation of laws, governed by the rule of the law. Edward Halealoha Ayau knowingly and willingly violated a court order by failing to return the Kawaihae artifacts to the Bishop Museum. Kihei Nahale'a was detained and held in contempt by Judge Ezra for disrupting the proceedings.
Edward Ayau and Kihei Nahale'a made choices. The judge's actions that followed did not demonstrate "the inability of the American judicial system to deal with issues of religious belief," as suggested by professor Osorio. Rather, Judge Ezra did what is expected of any good judge — he applied the law, enforced his order and maintained control of his courtroom.
Mr. Osorio also criticizes Judge Ezra for giving a "40-minute lecture" before issuing his ruling. In point of fact, Judge Ezra again did what a judge is supposed to do; he explained in detail the reasons and rationale for his ruling. Had Judge Ezra given no explanation at all and just ruled, he could have been justly criticized for not providing an explanation.
The message that anyone is above the law is a wrong message. Personal and religious beliefs do not, under our system of government, provide justification for disregarding an order of a federal District Court judge or for disrupting the legal proceedings in the judge's courtroom.
The job of the judicial system is to render justice under the law. Our job, as citizens, is to abide by the rule of law and to work within the system — or suffer the penalties the law metes out if we elect not to do so.
We trust that Judge Ezra will continue to do what he has done so far and what all good judges hope to do; that is, to apply the law in an objective, impartial and fair manner; to articulate the bases for his rulings in a clear manner so that the parties and the community understand his reasoning; and to enforce, when necessary, his orders so that all understand that we are a nation of laws, governed by laws — and where no one is above the law.
President, Federal Bar Association, Hawai'i Chapter
Seen at http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060120/OPINION02/601200327/1104
I do not trust Judge David Ezra. Why? Because he put a man (Eddie Ayau) in jail for protecting the iwi. That is why... and for this person to defend Judge Ezra's actions... is laughable. Unfortunately Hawaiians are pawns in the money and power game. We have little to no say and when some of us DO speak up we are often inaccurately portrayed as monsters. That is... as less than human. Now that is the sad, crying part.
Also this epitomizes how many others have rights especially if they are members of the federal bar (LOL)... but not Hawaiians... meaning they can speak up but if and when we do... the road quickly leads to the "militant" description. Them above the law? You bet. No double standards, please.