LIHUE — A man charged with trespassing on a Wainiha property he claims is his by right of a Hawaiian royal patent was arraigned Wednesday in Circuit Court.
Rather than entering a plea, Jesse James Steele of Wainiha refused on the grounds of a lack of jurisdiction.
“I’m a sovereign human being. This court has no legal authority over me as a kanaka here in the kingdom of Hawaii,” he told Fifth Circuit Court judge Michael Soong. “I would like to give the opportunity for you now and the state prosecutor to dismiss my charges with prejudice.”
Soong denied the motion and instead entered a not guilty plea on Steele’s behalf.
“Jurisdiction is an element the state would have to prove in order to convict you. We’re not in the trial stage yet,” Soong said. “It would have to be proved in trial. You wanted to file a motion to dismiss based on lack of jurisdiction. You could do that also.”
Steele said the court would have to provide legal proof of a treaty of annexation (the document that made Hawaii part of the U.S.) before entering a plea.
“I don’t need to speak to any attorney,” Steele said.
About 7:40 a.m. April 4, police received a complaint regarding individuals who were reportedly blocking access to the entrance of a privately-owned property at 4600 Ananalu Road in Wainiha, according to county spokeswoman Sarah Blane.
Contractors hired by the property owner were reportedly attempting to access the property to remove an illegal wooden structure that was built without the owner’s permission.
Officers arrived at the scene and located four individuals blocking access to the property. Officers notified the individuals of the violation and after refusing to vacate the premises, the violators were arrested.
Steele was arrested for disorderly conduct and trespassing and posted $100 bail.
If convicted, the Wainiha resident faces a maximum sentence of 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
A court trial is set for July 27, 9 a.m.