Johnny says documents provided at “Sea Cucumber hearing” do not prove meetings of traditional leaders

By Bill Jaynes
The Kaselehlie Press
February 7, 2017
Pohnpei—Assistant Attorney General Judah Johnny said this morning that he didn’t feel that the plaintiffs in the Sea Cucumber case had proved their contention that the Mwoalen Wahuen Pohnpei exists during the hearing that took place in January.
Partially based on an April 2016 letter to Governor Peterson from the Nahnmwarki of Sokehs Herculano Kohler saying that the Mwoalen Wahu en Pohnpei had disbanded, the defendants in the case filed a motion to dismiss claiming that the plaintiffs in the case did not exist.
Our eyewitness sources for the story we wrote on the January hearing on the matter said that Billston Charley, Liaison Officer to the Mwoalen Wahu supplied minutes for five meetings of the council of traditional leaders. That did not in fact happen. They also said that Charley had testified that the minutes of the meetings were also supplied to the Office of the Attorney General. Out sources also were incorrect on that statement. No such testimony was ever given and Johnny says that the AG’s office has never received minutes of the meetings.


Plaintiffs did in fact subpoena those minutes but did not produce them during the hearing. Johnny speculated about what might be in those minutes that would cause the plaintiffs not to produce them during the hearing. He didn’t move for the production of those records before the matter went to the court for a ruling.
Johnny says that the plaintiffs actually only supplied transmittal documents for stipends given to members of the Mwoalen Wahu and a couple of agendas, but no minutes. He said that he challenged the validity of the documents that were presented because three of them were not signed by the Governor or his representative as he says that are required to be. Further, he says that the transmittal documents don’t actually prove that meetings were ever held. He said that is not uncommon for members of the Mwoalen Wahu to show up for meetings that never take place due to lack of attendance or other reasons. Quite often in those cases, members collect their stipend just for showing up even though a meeting never took place.
As we understand it, Johnny said that while on the stand Mr. Kohler explained that while the Mwoalen Wahu will always exist by tradition, the Mwoalen Wahu en Pohnpei is a modern construct that ceased to exist under that name before the letter he wrote to the Governor in April which preceded the date of the filing of the law suit.
Hinting that there might be some grounds for appeal should the court decide against the defendants’ motion to dismiss but not saying so, he said that during his questioning of Mr. Kohler, the presiding Justice required him to reframe his questioning in a way that was different from what he intended. He also said that some of the testimony was conducted in the Pohnpeian language which was translated to English by a court representative. At one point the translator could not translate what Johnny called an important piece of testimony which the court accepted without translation. This morning he said he couldn’t remember what that point was but that he has asked for a transcript of the hearing.
At press time, the Court had not ruled on the Defendants’ motion.