Hawaii revises policy for Hawaiian court interpreters

HONOLULU — Hawaii’s Judiciary says those who want to speak Hawaiian in court will be able to use an interpreter.

The Judiciary announced Friday a policy for providing Hawaiian language interpreters after a professor faced arrest for insisting on speaking Hawaiian in court. A judge wasn’t able to confirm Samuel Kaleikoa Kaeo’s identity and issued a warrant.


The judge later recalled the warrant. The Judiciary reviewed its policy.

Previously judges had the discretion to allow interpreters for those who speak English but prefer to speak in Hawaiian.

Judiciary spokeswoman Jan Kagehiro says judges will now grant such requests, but there may be challenges such as the availability of qualified interpreters.


Kaeo was arrested last year while protesting a Maui solar telescope project.

A hearing is scheduled for Kaeo’s request for an interpreter.

  1. Pest Outwest January 28, 2018 1:33 am

    But . . . since the professor spoke excellent English, why couldn’t he be his own interpreter? What if you bring in one and every second sentence is corrected by the professor?

    In general, for situations in which a Hawaiian person is truly English challenged, I could see it. But this guy was just making a political point.

    1. sonneofmanisrael January 28, 2018 3:05 am

      So you say. Being unable to speak Hawaiian you don’t know his motive. Identity was the first question. The state asks are you. SAMUEL KEIALOHA KAEO?maybe he is not. That is a straw man name. His answer is to be understood. ..not made up for some ignorant contract agent acting as judge. You speculate which means you are not suited to sit on the bench in any state: Let alone Hawaii.

      1. diverdave January 28, 2018 8:52 am

        Oh stop. You’re just being silly. He had no problem speaking in clear English to the news media. His first language is English, he learned some Polynesian-Hawaiian in school. All he had to say is “here”.

  2. metalman808 January 28, 2018 7:48 am

    Maybe they could hire some Hawaiian judges in Hawaii. The Hawaiian islands are run by Asians. Why? There making it their personal piggy bank. At everyone expense. The Hawaiians should have more say when it comes to their homeland.

    1. diverdave January 28, 2018 8:50 am

      That would require them going to school and then going to law school, and then passing the bar. Being lawyers then for many years, and working their way up. No one is stopping them. It’s a free country, not a Kingdom.

      1. CongressWorksForUs January 28, 2018 2:36 pm

        Actually not. There is no requirement for judges to be lawyers. That’s what law-clerks are for. In fact, one might argue, that having non-lawyers on the bench might be somewhat of an improvement… a bit of common sense in this case would have meant the arrest warrant not being issues in the first place….

        1. diverdave January 28, 2018 3:36 pm

          How silly that world be. Every case world be appealed because the “Judge” would not know the law.

          1. sonneofmanisrael January 30, 2018 5:22 am

            Laws are written. You make tyrannical decisions on your lack of knowledge and statism.

          2. CongressWorksForUs February 6, 2018 11:38 am

            I wonder if you realize how ridiculous your comment is.

            You’re saying that people who don’t know the law cannot be judges; but since it is we the people who have to follow those laws — and by a large margin we are predominantly NOT lawyers — are you also saying that we can’t understand the law either?

            Because, frankly, that torpedoes every law any government wants to pass… we simply claim “we didn’t understand the law”.

            Since we know that argument doesn’t work, your statement is reduced to, well, bovine manure.

            FYI – many SCOTUS members since the founding of the country were not lawyers…

        2. sonneofmanisrael January 30, 2018 5:23 am


  3. Big ideas January 29, 2018 7:18 am

    SInce virtually all who want to speak Hawaiian also understand and speak English….are we also going to have hard working taxpayers ante up for Chinese, Japanese, Tagolag, Marshallese, and Korea (which is spoken in my house along with English).

    When does this PC madness stop?

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