Hawaii SC ends ceded lands case

Chris Rizo Oct. 28, 2009, 1:00pm

HONOLULU (Legal Newsline)-The Hawaii Supreme Court has ended the long-running litigation over ceded lands, dismissing claims by the remaining defendant in the case.

University of Hawaii Professor Jonathan Osorio sought to prevent Hawaii from selling or transferring 1.2 million acres of ceded lands.

When Hawaii was annexed by the United States in 1898, lands formerly held by the monarchy were ceded to the United States and later transferred in trust to the state.

Earlier defendants in the case -- the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the Housing and Community Development Corporation of Hawaii -- reached a settlement with the state that bars the sale of ceded lands unless both the state House and Senate approve a sale by a two-thirds vote.

In a statement, Hawaii Attorney General Mark Bennett said he was pleased with the court's ruling.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Hawaii justices erred when they ruled that the 1993 Congressional Apology Resolution is a legal basis for prohibiting the sale, exchange or transfer of any of the ceded lands.

The congressional resolution acknowledges the 100th anniversary of the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii and apologizes for the U.S. government's role in abolishing Hawaii's monarchy.

Ceded lands account for about 29 percent of Hawaii's total land area and almost all state-owned lands. Currently, the state receives millions annually in rents from tenants of the land.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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