On August 5, 2010, the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawai’i held a hearing on the Motion to Dismiss ﬁled by the U.S. Attorney’s ofﬁce on behalf of 57- year-old Russell Haas. The case had earlier been removed from the State Court into the Federal Court by the Honorable Kevin S.C. Chang. The State by agreement moved to dismiss this case. The State of Hawai’i agreed to dismiss this case upon discussion with James Christy, Regional Director of the U.S. Census Bureau in Los Angeles. The agreement with the U. S. Census Bureau to work with the Hawai’i County Prosecutor’s Ofﬁce on adopting new Federal Census practices, policies and training to avoid situations which may violate State law and breach the peace, was sufﬁcient for the State to end further litigation.
The Motion to Dismiss stems from the March 10, 2010 arrest of Mr. Haas for trespassing onto the fenced residential property of Kenneth Ishii within the Hawaiian Acres subdivision. At the time of his arrest, Mr. Haas was employed as a federal census worker.
According to police reports, Mr. Haas entered the fenced and gated property of Mr. Ishii without permission by opening a closed driveway gate. Once on the property, Haas was contacted by Ishii and asked multiple times to leave the property but refused to do so until the police were called. The police reports indicate that Ishii wanted Haas off the property to avoid Haas being bitten by dogs on the property.
The Motion to Dismiss centers around Haas’ claim that under federal law he is immune from prosecution for the trespass charge in State Court. Haas’ attorney argued that the actions of Haas were necessary and proper to carry out his duty as a federal census worker. Haas’ attorney claimed that the actions of Haas were reasonable, and therefore, he should be immune from state prosecution.
The prosecution, however, believes that Haas overstepped his boundary and his actions were not necessary and proper to carry out his duty as a federal census worker. The prosecution has claimed that Haas acted unreasonably by entering without permission through a closed gate and refusing to leave the property despite multiple requests to do so.
The prosecution believes that Haas had alternative means to have Ishii complete the census and that Ishii was not refusing to comply, but rather was initially concerned with the safety of Haas and his liability as a homeowner.
This case highlights the balance that exists between the privacy rights of a homeowner in Hawaii and the federal mandate for census participation. To that end, the Hawai’i County Prosecutor’s Ofﬁce has reached an agreement with representatives from the U.S. Census Bureau to avoid similar situations within this County and the State. Further discussions are planned with the U. S. Census Bureau to improve the practices of census collection.