A group that has occupied a parcel of agricultural land above Waipahu for more than eight months has been given a deadline of Monday to move out or face eviction. The group was notified of the deadline after a circuit court judge found its claim to “superior title” to be without merit and its presence on the property illegal.
The group, backed by uniformed members of a Hawaiian sovereignty group calling itself Occupied Forces Hawaii Army, initially occupied a 5-acre lot in the 38-lot Ekaha Lands agricultural subdivision, but now says it has “successfully acquired” a total of 30 acres in the same area.
The group claims “superior title” to that of the registered owner because, it says, two of its members are descendants of the original recipient of a land award after the Great Mahele of 1848, who now claim to hold undivided title to the area by “heirdom.”
However, the group did not appear in court or respond to the lawsuit, and was subsequently ruled to have defaulted, essentially handing a legal victory in the case to the registered landowner, Guyland LLC.
In a parallel case filed in district court, the two claiming to be descendants filed extensive genealogical information but failed to submit evidence of any other basis for claiming ownership.
Guyland, for its part, submitted copies of a warranty deed, along with a title report and a title insurance policy from First American Title, which “did not identify any of the Defendants as having any interest whatsoever in the subject property.”
“Defendants have not and cannot produce a competing deed in their favor, nor do they have a lease,” Guyland’s attorney, Fred Arensmeyer, argued in a court filing. “The mere fact that the land in question was at one time in history granted to an owner via royal land patent does not somehow invalidate the subsequent sales and transfers of that land, or somehow entitle the … defendants thereto even if they could somehow demonstrate the geological (sic) lineage they unfoundedly allege.”
After reviewing the evidence in a May 4 hearing, Circuit Court Judge James McWhinnie agreed there was no issue of material fact and granted Guyland’s motion for summary judgment. He then signed off on several court orders last week, including a Writ of Possession directing police or sheriffs to remove the defendants, their supporters, and “any and all personal property,” from the site.
Guyland gave members of the group the deadline of Monday to get off the property, according to Arensmeyer.
Throughout the extended period the group has occupied the site, members have fended off police by saying they have been involved in a civil dispute that will be settled in court. However, it now appears they are not ready to accept the court’s ruling.
Preparing For A Showdown
Instead of preparing to leave, the group has been welcoming reinforcements consisting of additional uniformed members of Occupied Forces Hawaii Army, which claims to be a uniformed force of “lawful military combatants” serving the “Country of Hawaii.”
One photo posted to Instagram on Friday by Moleka Hicks, who has been at the site since October, showed 10 OFHA members posing in front of a Hawaiian flag. They are wearing Woodland-pattern camouflaged battle dress uniforms that were previously standard issue by U.S. military services but replaced more than a decade ago.
“Mahalo to our troops for your presence,” Hicks wrote on Instagram when posting the photo.
Arensmeyer, Guyland’s attorney, said in an email he expects additional OFH Army members to move in before the Monday deadline.
The 5-acre parcel taken over by squatters is identified as Lot 19 in the subdivision and was leased in July 2020 to Aloha Pacific Green. Aloha Pacific Green is identified in court documents as “the designated grower for thirty-nine medical marijuana card holders,” although no company by that name appears to be registered to do business in Hawaii, according to the state’s business registration database.
Hicks, also known as Morris N. Hicks, was arrested in January and charged with obstructing government operations “by using or threatening to use violence, force, or physical interference or obstacle, did intentionally obstruct, impair, or hinder the enforcement of the penal law or the preservation of the peace by a law enforcement officer acting under color of the peace officer’s official authority,” according to a Jan. 27 criminal complaint.
Court records do not indicate the circumstances of the Jan. 14 incident that led to the charges.
After several delays, Hicks is scheduled to appear in the district court in Wahiawa on Thursday for arraignment and to enter a plea to the obstruction charge, a misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.
Hicks sent an undated letter to the court in which he repeated language commonly used by the so-called “sovereign citizens movement,” whose followers reject the authority of the courts and the government. The movement is considered an extremist organization by the FBI and is tracked by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“I am a man and one of the people of the Country of Hawaii, a living breathing sentient being on the land, a natural creation of the Father (God),” Hicks wrote. “Let the record reflect that I can only come to court by special divine appearance.”
Hicks signed the letter with the notation, “Without prejudice U. C. C. 1-308,” a citation to the Uniform Commercial Code, which reflects the frequent invocation of a twisted understanding of the UCC by sovereign citizens.
The document appears to be based on a form letter virtually identical to one submitted by James Beeks, a Florida man facing a felony charge of obstruction of Congress for his participation in the Jan. 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
A second participant in the Oahu land occupation, and the first named defendant in the case, Keola Kaleimamahu, was arrested on suspicion of 1st degree terroristic threatening and carrying an automatic weapon following a Feb. 7 incident at Kualoa Ranch. The incident does not appear to be related to the land occupation, and it is not known whether Kaleimamahu was armed while at the Waipahu site.
At an early court appearance after being arrested, Kaleimamahu claimed a defense of “sovereignty,” court records show.
However, he entered a “no contest” plea to the charges on May 9 and faces sentencing on Aug. 25, court records show. Terroristic threatening carries a possible maximum prison sentence of five years, while the weapons offense has a maximum 10 year sentence.
Just days after his “no contest” plea, Kaleimamahu was indicted on new terroristic threatening charges by a state grand jury, this time stemming from an incident in September. He remains in custody, and the charges are pending. Following his arrest, he was dismissed as a defendant in the Guyland lawsuit.
A Premature Celebration
Less than three weeks ago, Hicks had publicly announced a court victory over Guyland.
“We won our district court case against guy lands LLC,” Hicks wrote in an Instagram post. “Now we just got the civil case to go and the whole Ahupua’a of Ho ae ae will be returned to all keiki of this royal patent!!!! So much emotions and mana today !! before we walked in we oli (chanted) and called our ancestors, we also did our oli in court! Mahalo Ke akua! Mahalo ancestors !!! We did it!!!”
In fact, there was no court victory. In a hearing held in the Wahiawa district court on May 26, Judge William Domingo simply put the matter on hold pending a decision in the parallel circuit court case.
By law, disputes involving competing title claims must be resolved in circuit court, while routine landlord-tenant cases and evictions are decided in district court. And by the time of Domingo’s ruling, the Occupied Forces Hawaii Army group had already lost the circuit court case, although there were further delays while proper notice of the proposed court orders was served on the defendants.
The mistaken celebration suggests a lack of understanding of the legal process or deliberate misrepresentation by Hicks or others he relied on in interpreting events in the case.
Court records show Alicia Napua Hueu, who holds the rank of captain in Occupied Forces Hawaii Army, appeared in both Guyland cases claiming to represent OFHA in the proceedings as a JAG officer, a term referring to military lawyers assigned to the office of the Judge Advocate General of a military service.
Within Occupied Forces Hawaii Army, the position of Judge Advocate General is filled by OFHA Commander Sam Lilikoi, whose real name is Eric C.A. Nelson. Hueu has been a spokesperson for Lilikoi/Nelson.
In March, Big Island attorney Jamae Kawauchi unsuccessfully sought a temporary restraining order against Hueu, alleging he was being harassed and threatened by her. In a declaration filed in court, Kawauchi said he met Hueu while representing another person in a series of traffic cases, and that Hueu claimed to be a JAG officer.
“I asked her what authority she was acting pursuant to, in reference to her representation that she is a JAG officer, and her reply was she did not have any authority from anyone to do what she was doing,” Kawauchi wrote in his TRO application.
Hueu has also claimed the title of governor of Maui, apparently conferred on her by the “Attorney General” of the Kingdom of the Hawaiian Islands, one of several rival Hawaiian sovereignty groups purporting to represent a still-fictional recreated or restored kingdom government.
In this capacity, Hueu has directed or taken part in other land occupations on Maui based on claims of inherited rights similar to those made in the Waipahu case.
She is now facing multiple criminal charges on Maui stemming from two separate incidents. She is charged with first degree burglary, theft and extortion, all Class B felonies, as well as other felony and misdemeanor charges stemming from the takeover of the home of a retired judge and his wife on Maui in January 2020.
Hueu, in an Instagram post, rejected the charges, and said she was “taking refuge and safeguarding Internationally Protected Persons on kuleana land given in allodial title by Kamehameha III to the Heirs of Kaumaia.”
She was charged again earlier this year with two additional counts of first degree extortion for threats allegedly made during the period of June to December 2019.