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Case against Big Island census worker Haas dismissed


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.

Kenneth Ishii

Kenneth Ishii

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.

6 Responses to “Case against Big Island census worker Haas dismissed”

  1. Doug says:

    Well, it's apparent that the Hawaii County Prosecutor's Office is more than willing to stick up for the criminal actions of the Hawaii County Police; refusal to comply and assist with the lawful census. The Police's criminal behavior is not really surprising, as historically, those in law enforcement tend to be drawn from the same subset of the population that most criminals are. And the Prosecutor's Office has clearly forgotten how to distinguish between the criminals and the police.

  2. Kele says:

    My question is why didn't Mr. Chang offer to answer the census takers questions outside of the gate if his dogs might be a problem? Did he not know that providing such information is the law of the land and that anyone who does not cooperate is subject to a fine? I learned that when I was in elementary school. And if anyone doubts the truth of the matter, they can go here:

    It is also worthwhile to note that the more people who are counted in any area, the greater the federal monetary contributions to said area.

  3. parv says:

    I found the concept of fine in this case to be ridiculous, so had to search it for myself. That turns out to be true indeedy …

    … learned something new today. Thanks Kele.

  4. Anonymous says:

    This case was a case that should never have been. The officer should know full well of the duties of the census taker, dogs or no dogs, and taken the papers even if he had to step outside the gate. Even children know what the census is for. And to have a police official claim his officer's have not received training about the census is another go back to grade school opportunity. I'm sure the officer has handed papers (tickets) to many people who did not want to receive them and has direct knowledge of how distastful that can be for both parties. I think he would be very upset, and rightfully so, if a motorist called 2 of his friends to come and push the crumpled papers back at him. 10 years from now there will be another census and all 4 people involved here will be retired and who knows….maybe they will all 4 be out distributing census forms.

  5. Ken says:

    If I were the Chief of Police, this Ishii cop would be unemployed.


  6. Denis says:

    It would have been lots easier for the census worker and the cops to just shoot the dogs and then get on with their business. That's what I would have done – and the "citizen" was clearly out of bounds. As a police officer, it is all about me going home safely at the end of the day. If the dogs were so vicious, they should have been shot dead right there. What if a child had come in the gate?

    Denis Logan


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