The officers were enforcing state law and had not been trained on the federal census law, Hawaii County Police Maj. Sam Thomas said.
When the case goes to U.S. District Court on July 22, Hawaii County Deputy Prosecutor Roland Talon will argue that Mr. Haas overstepped his authority by opening the resident’s fence, entering his property and refusing to leave until he had been asked several times.
“There were other measures that he could have taken which would not have risen to the level of him trespassing onto the property,” Mr. Talon said in an interview.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Larry Butrick claims Mr. Haas is protected by the U.S. Constitution for actions taken in his capacity as a federal employee. Mr. Butrick filed a motion asking the judge to dismiss the case.
“Haas was instructed that when dealing with a reluctant respondent he was to strive to gain the respondent’s cooperation and try to be persuasive,” Mr. Butrick wrote in the motion. “Haas was told to be persistent in his attempt to talk to respondents.”
Census officials weren’t aware of any other case in which federal lawyers are defending an arrested employee.
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