Practice Groups

Appellate Practice Group

Chair: Robert H. Thomas
Chair Emeritus: R. Charles Bocken

Lawyers versed in appellate practice offer clients distinct advantages at all stages of litigation: they are experienced in overturning judgments when trials go wrong, and defending favorable trial court judgments. But appellate lawyers are also invaluable at critical stages of trial by advising trial counsel how to preserve the record and issues for appeal, and by writing and arguing summary judgment motions.

Damon Key’s appellate lawyers collectively possess more than 100 years of experience successfully handling cases at every level of federal and state appellate courts. Our clients include those who we represented at the trial stage of a case and those who seek out our counsel only after a case is headed to an appeals court. Recent appellate matters include:

 

  • Successfully sought certiorari review in the Hawaii Supreme Court and secured a judgment on the merits that parents have a due process right to raise the parental discipline defense in Family Court proceedings.
  • Represented the American Bar Association in a U.S. Supreme Court case which concluded that private lawyers retained by local governments may assert qualified immunity from civil lawsuits.
  • Represented a property owner in its successful Hawaii Supreme Court appeal overturning a condemnation judgment because the trial court should have considered evidence that the taking was for private benefit.
  • Settled a case on appeal in the Ninth Circuit’s appellate mediation program, after an adverse trial court judgment.
  • Successfully opposed a request for discretionary review in the Hawaii Supreme Court, preserving a favorable court of appeals judgment.

  • Our appellate team members have served as judicial law clerks, and regularly appear in the U.S. and Hawaii Supreme Courts, the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals, and the federal courts of appeals. We are also active outside of the courtroom, serving as faculty at continuing legal education panels, publishing articles and contributing chapters to books on appellate practice, and teaching appellate law seminars to law students and our fellow lawyers.

    For more information, contact our Appellate Practice Group Chair,  Robert H. Thomas.

    Significant reported cases argued by Damon Key attorneys include:

    U.S. Supreme Court:

  • Kaiser Aetna v. United States, 444 U.S. 164 (1979) (dredged pond falls within definition of navigable waters and government’s attempt to create a public right of access to improved land is a taking that requires just compensation)
  • Filarksy v. Delia, 132 S. Ct. 1657 (2012) (represented the American Bar Association as amicus curiae, successfully arguing that private lawyer retained by municipal government was entitled to assert qualified immunity in federal civil rights action)
  • Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 129 S. Ct. 365 (2008) (represented nine retired Admirals and service organizations in U.S. Supreme Court amicus brief supporting the Navy’s use of sonar in training exercises against environmental challenge)
  • Stop the Beach Renourishment, Inc. v. Florida Dep’t of Environmental Protection, 130 S. Ct. 2592 (2010) (amicus brief in “judicial takings” case)
  • United States v. Tohono O’odham Nation, 131 S. Ct. 1723 (2011) (amicus) (filed an amicus brief supporting the Nation’s claim to Court of Federal Claims jurisdiction)

  • Ninth Circuit:

  • Oden v. Northern Marianas College, 440 F.3d 1085 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 549 U.S. 819 (2006) (successfully represented College in student’s appeal of sexual harassment suit)
  • Andrew v. Bowen, 873 F.2d 875 (9th Cir. 1988) (successfully briefed and argued case reversing District Court’s denial of attorney fees to client)

  • Hawaii Supreme Court:

  • Hamilton ex rel. Lethem v. Lethem, 126 Haw. 294, 270 P.3d 1024 (2012) (parents have a right to discipline their children, and have the right to raise the defense if Family Court proceedings to show cause on a civil TRO)
  • County of Hawaii v. C & J Coupe Family Ltd. P’ship, 124 Haw. 281, 242 P.3d 1136 (2010) (eminent domain and pretext), cert. denied, 132 S. Ct. 249 (2011)
  • Dupree v. Hiraga, 121 Haw. 297, 219 P.3d 1084 (2009) (establishing standards for residency for voter registration purposes)
  • DeJetley v. Kahoohalahala, 122 Haw. 251, 226 P.3d 421 (2010) (the forfeiture provision in the Maui County Charter is self-executing and immediate, requiring a council member who is not a resident of his district to immediately forfeit office)
  • County of Hawaii v. C & J Coupe Family Ltd. P’ship, 120 Haw. 400, 208 P.3d 713 (2009) (detailing standards for award of damages for a failed taking, including attorneys fees and costs)
  • County of Hawaii v. C & J Coupe Family Ltd. P’ship, 119 Haw. 352, 198 P.3d 615 (2008) (a court has an obligation under the Hawaii Constitution to take seriously a property owner’s claim that the government’s proffered reasons for condemning private property is really just a pretext hiding private benefits)
  • Maui Tomorrow v. State of Hawaii, 110 Haw. 234, 131 P.3d 517 (2006) (represented Maui farmers in challenge to allocation of fresh water on Maui, and related appeal for attorneys fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988)
  • County of Kauai ex rel. Nakazawa v. Baptiste, 115 Haw. 15, 165 P.3d 916 (2007) (represented homeowners in appeal of government challenge to validity of county charter capping real property taxes for resident homeowners)
  • Kaiser Hawaii Kai Dev. Co. v. City & County of Honolulu, 70 Haw. 480, 777 P.2d 244 (1989) (represented property owner in case establishing that zoning cannot be accomplished via initiative)
  • Sandy Beach Defense Fund v. City & County of Honolulu, 70 Haw. 361, 773 P.2d 250 (1989) (defended coastal zone and other development permits from due process challenge)
  • Lum Yip Kee, Ltd. v. City & County of Honolulu, 70 Haw. 179, 767 P.2d 815 (1989) (amicus curiae brief challenging initiative as method of enacting zoning ordinances in Honolulu)
  • Pono v. Molokai Ranch, Ltd., 119 Haw. 164, 194 P.3d 1126 (Haw. Ct. App.), cert. rejected, 2008 WL 5392320, 2008 Haw. App. LEXIS 686 (Haw. 2008) (successfully opposing discretionary review, and preserving appeals courts’s judgment)
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