Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024|
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KEALAKEKUA — Two of the men involved in “Freedom Ride 2016” — where activists drove without licenses or registration in protest of what they consider an infringement on their rights — were arrested on contempt of court charges Thursday.
The arrests came after a bizarre scene where the defendants said the laws of the court didn’t apply to them, just as the rules of the road don’t.
It started when Paul Komara, one of the organizers of the event, was in court on charges of driving without a license plate, delinquent vehicle tax, driving without a license and no current safety check for the vehicle. Those citations were issued March 4 in Ka’u. The Freedom Ride was Jan. 2.
With him in court Thursday was William Gilroy, who was issued citations alleging no driver’s license, no insurance and similar offenses, and was wanted on a contempt of court warrant for missing a hearing in his case.
Both challenge the idea that most laws do not apply to them, due to an interpretation of the U.S. Constitution not recognized by the U.S. courts.
When Komara was called to come forward to the defendant’s desk, he refused to leave the gallery.
“I don’t feel you have jurisdiction over me,” he said.
After a few more words, District Judge Margaret Masunaga called a recess and left the courtroom while Komara continued speaking. He said his expert witness was injured in a car accident, leading to the request for continuance.
He called his appearance in court Thursday a “courtesy visitation,” as he rejects the idea Hawaiian or federal courts have jurisdiction over them.
He continued speaking to the courtroom, demanding someone come forward with a claim. The staff did not.
As his statement began to wind down, the clerk buzzed Masunaga to return to the courtroom. The clerk asked Komara to quit speaking so they could call the case again. He did not, and the case was called anyway.
Shortly after she was seated, with Komara still talking, Masunaga said “if anyone is recording, they need to stop.”
In Hawaii, cameras and voice recorders need to be approved before they can be used during a court proceeding. This was apparently directed toward Gilroy, who was recording the event with his cellphone. He was removed from the courtroom by a sheriff’s deputy.
With her voice largely washed out by Komara’s, Masunaga attempted to continue the hearing. She finally ordered Komara to pay a $750 contempt of court warrant in the case and again recessed the proceedings. Gilroy’s warrant was set at $150 for missing his prior hearing.
Komara continued speaking, claiming the courtroom was now his.
“Mr. Bailiff, am I free to leave?” he asked.
“You’re free to do whatever you want, sir,” the bailiff replied.
Komara left and he and Gilroy sat outside while the court advanced to the driving without a license case of Christopher Lee Huber. Huber, as luck would have it, also disputed that the state could restrain his ability to drive on public roads, the idea that triggered the Freedom Ride.
While that case was continuing, Komara and Gilroy were arrested outside the doors of the courtroom. Komara began arguing with the deputies before the arrest, saying they were serving as part of a corrupt system.
Gilroy was able to pay his contempt of court warrant from the courthouse. Komara was taken to jail and appeared Friday in Hilo. The defense argued for release on his own recognizance. The judge decided on supervised release and directed he check in at the Intake Service Center.
Trial for Komara is slated for 8:30 a.m. June 6.
Email Graham Milldrum at email@example.com.
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