LIHU‘E — A Kalaheo man will appeal his verdict and sentencing on moving violations with four more trials looming.
Chief Judge Randal Valenciano of the 5th Circuit on Thursday sentenced Louis Lance Keoni Palama, 48, to six months in jail, with credit for time served, and one year of probation for driving without a license.
A concurrent sentence of 30 days with a $1,500 fine was also given for violations of conditions of operation and registration of motor vehicles.
Last October, a jury found Palama guilty on two of three driving-related charges after a three-day trial. The jury was undecided on whether presenting his Native Hawaiian license to police was illegal, and Valenciano dismissed the charge.
Palama refused to sign the sentencing judgment and would not accept a copy, according to court records. Court appointed attorney Timothy Tobin was directed to mail Palama a copy at the Kaua‘i Community Correctional Center.
During sentencing, a motion was granted allowing Tobin to withdraw as counsel, as Palama intends to file an appeal. Charles Foster is the newly appointed attorney.
The trial was in regard to a traffic stop on July 22, 2010. Palama was accused of driving without a license, proper registration and no-fault insurance. He did not have a valid State of Hawai‘i driver’s license at the time and presented his Polynesian Kingdom of Atooi driver’s license.
Palama argued that the Kaua‘i Police did not have jurisdiction in the Kalahea area and that it constituted harassment. Atooi members claim the right to make their own identification cards and appropriate credentials as a sovereign nation recognized under the Te Moana Nui A Kiva or Pacific Island United Nations.
County Deputy Prosecutor Jared Auna sought to prove that Palama was knowingly aware that he was driving without a license and without insurance, and that past convictions made it clear that he understood the state license was invalid.
Tobin argued that the state did not establish that the vehicle belonged to Palama, nor did it provide evidence that the Kingdom of Atooi license met the conditions of an illegal license as fictitious, altered or cut.
The trial included testimony from Department of Motor Vehicles staff members who testified about state-honored license exemptions in 49 states and several countries. The Atooi license is not among them.
Palama is scheduled for a jury trial on identical charges in Valenciano’s court on Feb. 21. He is scheduled for jury trial in 5th Circuit Judge Kathleen Watanabe’s court for a contempt of court charge on Feb. 6, and again on May 7 for driving without a license, two counts of racing on the highway, unlawful use of a license, and no motor vehicle insurance.
A jury-waived trial is scheduled on Feb. 17 with District Court Judge Trudy Senda regarding a charge of family or household member abuse.