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See Petition for Writ of Mandamus

Court won't hear case of title firm's co-founder

Honolulu Star-Bulletin
Monday, March 23, 1998

By Rob Perez

The Supreme Court today rejected a lawsuit brought by an Oahu managainst President Clinton that claimed the 1850 treaty between theHawaiian Kingdom and the United States was still in effect.

The justices did not cite a reason in denying to hear the case ofDavid Keanu Sai, co-founder of Perfect Title Co., the controversialtitle-search firm under investigation by the state.

Sai had sued Clinton last year, asking the court to compel thepresident to honor the treaty. Sai alleged that the treaty still wasin effect because the annexation of the Hawaiian islands by theUnited States was illegal. He couldn't be reached for comment thismorning.

Even though he is not a lawyer and had no attorney representing him,Sai was able to get his case onto the Supreme Court docket by citinga rarely used rule involving "original jurisdiction."

Because he claimed he was a foreign ambassador representing thekingdom, he succeeded in getting the court to consider his case, notin its typical capacity as the nation's highest appeals court, but asa trial one. That meant the lawsuit could be filed directly with theSupreme Court and didn't have to go through an appeals process.

But legal experts said they doubted the justices would hear the case.Experts said the court likely would throw the case out for legal ortechnical reasons.

A court spokesman said the justices usually don't give reasons whendenying to hear cases.

Perfect Title has claimed that existing land titles in Hawaii areinvalid by citing 18th century kingdom law. Critics accused thecompany of running a scam, and authorities last year charg-ed Sai andco-founder Donald Lewis with attempted theft in relation to one oftheir cases.

The trial is scheduled for later this year.

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