County, state staff could have violated constitutional rights in a bitter little one custody case

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) — A federal appeals court said a Kauai police officer and state child welfare workers may have violated the constitutional rights of a Big Island mother and her 11-year-old daughter when they removed the girl in 2019.

The mother’s lawyer said the verdict exposed the state and the KPD to potential damages in the millions.

“We’re certainly talking about seven-figure damages, but we’re also talking about appropriate changes so that the social workers alone don’t play God and just take children,” said Eric Seitz, attorney for Hanna David and her daughter.

“It was just a horrible experience for everyone.”

The Ninth Circuit Court said KPD clerk Gina Kaulukukui and CPS staff misled a family court judge when he ordered David’s daughter removed from her school and placed under the care of her father, William Keahiolalo, a firefighter Kauai, to ask.


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The court said the Kaulukukui and CPS workers failed to tell the judge that David had full custody of the girl and that there was a court order ordering the father to stay away from them.

“The law clearly states that when a state official interferes with a parent’s rightful custody rights through judicial fraud, the constitutional right of parents and children to family reunification is violated,” the ruling reads.

“David and her daughter’s constitutional right to family association was clearly established such that a reasonable official in Kaulukukui’s shoes would have understood that their alleged actions violated the constitution.”

The girl has since been returned to her mother and her case is returning to the Hawaii federal court for further hearings.

Kauai police officers and the Department of Human Services initially did not comment.

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