Peaman makes initial court appearance after being cited

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KEALAKEKUA — A Kona District Court judge has disqualified himself from hearing the case of Sean “Peaman” Pagett, who was cited Christmas Day for running an unpermitted race at Kailua Pier.

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KEALAKEKUA — A Kona District Court judge has disqualified himself from hearing the case of Sean “Peaman” Pagett, who was cited Christmas Day for running an unpermitted race at Kailua Pier.

It was Pagett’s first court appearance since Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officers wrote a criminal complaint and court summons for Pagett not having the necessary permit to hold a “marine parade” at Kailua Bay. He pleaded not guilty before Kona District Court Judge Peter Bresciani Thursday to the single offense and Bresciani set Pagett’s next court appearance, a pretrial conference, for March 13.

“Peaman wants his chance to contest it,” said Jason Braswell, an attorney representing Pagett, “and hopefully he gets it.”

Braswell also noted that “there’s some indecision in the Prosecutor’s Office as to whether or not they are going to move forward in the case. But I think that will be resolved in the fairly short-term.”

The Prosecutor’s Office did not respond for comment as of press time on Thursday.

Also during the arraignment and plea hearing on Thursday, Bresciani disqualified himself from hearing the case. A court order filed did not give reasoning for the disqualification, but pointed to the state’s Code of Judicial Conduct that states a judge should disqualify or recuse himself “in any proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned.”

Braswell said after court that Bresciani opted to disqualify himself because he participates in Peaman events. A check of race results provided to West Hawaii Today confirmed he most recently participated in a Peaman event on Jan. 29. His name is not included in race results from the Dec. 25 event.

The state alleges Pagett, 53, was advised prior to the Doc Ferren Hall of Fame Biathlon, the final race in the annual Frozen Pea Production event series, that a permit was necessary to hold the event. Peaman, according to the criminal complaint, told officers that he understood a permit was needed, but “it does not apply to him.” After giving race instructions and holding the biathlon, in which more than 150 people took part in, officers issued Pagett the citation at 9:58 a.m. for violating Hawaii Administrative Rules Chapter 13-244-19, which deals with authorization for staging a regatta, marine parade, boat race or exhibition.

The rule defines these events as any “organized water event of limited duration, which is conducted according to a prearranged schedule” that “will introduce extra or unusual hazards to the safety of persons or property on the water.” State law further requires the purchase of risk-management insurance to cover such events once a permit is issued.

The free Peaman series, which has grown into an informal institution in Kailua-Kona over the last three decades, first encountered resistance in November. A DOCARE officer tried to shut down the Post Pigout Peamania swim/run race that is held the first Sunday after Thanksgiving every year. The officers told Pagett then that if he didn’t acquire the proper permits and provide proof of insurance, further action would be taken.

Deborah Ward, DLNR communications specialist, said Thursday that the department, as per policy, does not “comment on active investigations nor cases being adjudicated.”

Braswell said Thursday that The Terrific Turtle Trudge, The Mighty Mouse Scamper and The Roadrunner 1-mile Romp scheduled this month and the Zoomin’ Zack Plunge and Plod Biathlon in March will go on thanks to PATH, Peoples Advocacy for Trails Hawaii.

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Tina Clothier, PATH executive director, confirmed Braswell’s statement, adding that the organization also stepped in and secured permits and insurance for the race in January and has also done so for races this month and in March.

“We think it’s a great event, we’re happy to support it and help with having it continue until we know which way the courts are going to go,” she said.

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