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TMT case heads to court next week

Legal counsel acting on behalf of Thirty Meter Telescope Corp. will head to court at 8 a.m. on Feb. 20.

The move comes after the TMT Corp. requested to file an amicus curiae brief, also known as a friends of the court brief, in the case involving six petitioners opposing the state’s approval process for issuing a permit for the construction of one of the world’s largest telescopes atop Mauna Kea.

Third Circuit Court Judge Greg Nakamura approved the corporation’s request during a January hearing.

An amicus curiae involves an entity that might not have a direct relationship to the lawsuit, and is not listed as a party, but someone who has precedential interest in the outcome.

TMT representatives will have a chance to make oral statements in court next week.

Kealoha Pisciotta, president of Native Hawaiian group Mauna Kea Anaina Hou and one of the six petitioners, said it’s unlikely they’ll get a chance to respond to statements made by TMT Corp. in court, but may submit a written response following the hearing.

The Tribune-Herald previously reported Douglas Ing, who represented TMT Corp. at the January hearing, told Nakamura the corporation decided to take action following a recent ruling by the Supreme Court of Hawaii regarding the issuance of a CD permit for the construction of a telescope on Maui’s Haleakala.

The Supreme Court ruled the Board of Land and Natural Resources should have held a contested case hearing prior to approving a permit.

The petitioners think the merits of their case are similar to those who won in the Supreme Court ruling.

TMT spokesperson Sandra Dawson said the amicus brief was filed, and next Thursday’s hearing will be one of the last steps before Nakamura makes a ruling.

She said TMT supporters are “very positive and optimistic.”

“We think we filed good briefs,” she said. “The briefs by TMT and the briefs by the university are very good.”

Dawson also said TMT representatives and the Mauna Kea Management Board will vote on terms regarding the university’s sublease for the $1.3 billion project.

Both parties are expected to vote on the terms at 9 a.m. Wednesday in the Institute for Astronomy conference room.

The meeting is open to the public.

Next week, the terms of the sublease for the project will go in front of the University of Hawaii Board of Regents for review.

Email Megan Moseley at mmoseley@hawaiitribune-herald.com.


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