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High court hears arguments in cultural-rights case

The Hawaii Supreme Court heard arguments today in a case that could clarify to what extent a Native Hawaiian’s practice of traditional and cultural activities can negate a criminal prosecution.

The case involves Lloyd Pratt, 58, who was convicted in 2006 of living in a restricted area in Kauai’s Kalalau Valley in the Na Pali Coast State Park.

Pratt’s position is that his activities as a caretaker that included cleaning the area of invasive species and restoring ancient Hawaiian sites precludes the prosecution.

But a Kauai prosecutor argued that the activities must be balanced with the state’s interest in preserving the area.

Pratt now longer lives in the vally and is now a resident of Anahola, Kauai.  He came to Honolulu today to hear the arguments by his lawyer and the Kauai prosecutor’s office.

“I think it went well,” Pratt said following the hearing.

As is customary, the high court adjourned the session without indicating when it will issue a decision.

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