Law School Case Brief
Arakaki v. Cayetano - 324 F.3d 1078 (9th Cir. 2003)
In the context of Fed. R. Civ. P. 24, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit considers three factors in determining the adequacy of representation: (1) whether the interest of a present party is such that it will undoubtedly make all of a proposed intervenor's arguments; (2) whether the present party is capable and willing to make such arguments; and (3) whether a proposed intervenor would offer any necessary elements to the proceeding that other parties would neglect. The most important factor in determining the adequacy of representation is how the interest compares with the interests of existing parties. When an applicant for intervention and an existing party have the same ultimate objective, a presumption of adequacy of representation arises. If the applicant's interest is identical to that of one of the present parties, a compelling showing should be required to demonstrate inadequate representation. There is also an assumption of adequacy when the government and the applicant are on the same side. In the absence of a very compelling showing to the contrary, it will be presumed that a state adequately represents its citizens when the applicant shares the same interest. Where parties share the same ultimate objective, differences in litigation strategy do not normally justify intervention.
Josiah Hoohuli and other native Hawaiians (Hoohuli) seek to intervene in a lawsuit challenging the provision of benefits by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL), and the Hawaiian Homes Commission (HHC) to native Hawaiians and Hawaiians. Hoohuli, lessees of Hawaiian homestead lands or applicants for such leases, seek intervention on the grounds that they have an interest in continuing to receive benefits as native Hawaiians, and an interest to stop the provision of benefits to Hawaiians by limiting the eligibility to only native Hawaiians. They alleged that the exclusive benefits given to Hawaiians and native Hawaiians by were racially discriminatory and violated the Equal Protection Clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment.
Did the district court err in denying Hoohuli's motion to intervene as a matter of right?
The court found that intervention was inappropriate for the public land trust beneficiary claim because Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(a) required an applicant to demonstrate a significantly protectable interest related to the property or transaction that was the subject of the action, and the taxpayer's public trust claim was dismissed by the district court so it was no longer the subject of the taxpayer's action. Although the intervenors had a significantly protectable interest against the taxpayer's equal protection challenge in the continued receipt of benefits as native Hawaiians, intervention was improper under Fed. R. Civ. P. 24 because the state and its subdivisions would have adequately represented the intervenors' interest at trial.
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