Civil rights advocates the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai‘i Foundation (“ACLU”) and the law firm of Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing (“AHFI”) have asked the Hawaii district court for leave to file an amicus brief (also know as a “friend of the court” brief) in support of equal access to court proceedings by all journalists.
The Hawaii Guerrilla Video Hui (“the Hui”) states that its mission is to “document and share the stories of what is really happening in Hawaiʻi, especially in places where those abusing power meet those standing against that abuse.” The Hui is comprised of Kamuela Vance Viveiros, H. Doug Matsuoka, and Laulani Teale. Mr. Kamuela is a long-time Olelo producer, and his documentary, Kalo Culture, will be premiering at the Hawaii International Film Festival this year. The Hui was also recently awarded a grant from The Hawaii People’s Fund and The Kim Coco Iwamoto Fund for Social Justice to continue coverage of frontline social justice activities, and has covered courtroom proceedings in the past.
The Hui filed an application to document the proceedings in a Hawaii District Court case involving a Hawaiian rights activist fighting a disorderly conduct charge; that application was granted by the Honorable Dean E. Ochiai, but a different judge presiding over the criminal trial ordered Judge Ochiai to reconsider that application based on her belief – which she did not fully explain – that the application may not have been “providently granted.” The ACLU’s proposed amicus brief discusses the importance of equal access to courtroom proceedings, and asks the Court to base the grant or denial of the Hui’s application on court rules (and not on the Hui’s viewpoint or editorial stance).
In submitting the proposed amicus brief, AHFI attorney Brandon Segal said: “A diverse and free press is a cornerstone of our Constitution, and all voices must be treated equally by the government.”
ACLU Senior Staff Attorney Daniel Gluck concurred: “Judges have discretion in when and how to allow journalists into their courtroom, but once it is granted, they cannot discriminate. We want to make sure that all journalists, regardless of viewpoint and regardless of whether they are part of a traditional or ‘alternative’ media organization, receive equal access.”
The case has a hearing scheduled for October 17, 2012 at 1:30 p.m.