On the November 30, 1915, Jonah Kūhiō Kalaniana‘ole, on his own behalf filed a bill in equity averring mental weakness on the part of Queen Lili‘uokalani. (Hawaii Supreme Court)
“In his petition to set aside the queen’s trust deed, Kūhiō claims that Lili‘uokalani, who was seventy-seven years old last September, is a widow without issue and that by virtue of a royal proclamation of February 10, 1883, issued by ‘His Majesty Kalākaua, then King of the Hawaiian Islands …’”
“‘… the said Jonah Kūhiō Kalaniana‘ole was created a prince, with succession to the throne, and that since the death of his brother, Prince David Kawānanakoa, on the second day of June, 1908, the said prince had been next in succession to said queen and the heir preemptive.’”
“The trust deed which Kūhiō would have broken by action of court was signed by Queen Lili‘uokalani on December 2, 1909 and Kūhiō claims that, although at that time he was in Honolulu, he was kept away from the queen so that she could not consult with him as to the terms of the trust deed.” (Hawaiian Gazette, December 17, 1915)
The queen and her representatives fought the claims … “Queen Liliuokalani will oppose the suit institutes in her name, in the circuit court here on November 30, last, by delegates J. K. Kalaniana‘ole, as her next friend and in his name, to break the trust in which the queen’s property is held. In other words, Queen Lili‘uokalani wishes the trust to continue.” (Hawaiian Gazette, December 17, 1915)
The case made it to the Hawai‘i Supreme Court and noted, the matter relates to “the execution by the Queen of a certain deed of trust, on the 2d day of December, 1909, under which the said Iaukea and Dominis were among the beneficiaries, and certain subsequently executed instruments purporting to confirm and supplement the trust deed.” (Supreme Court)
“The Queen then applied to this court for a writ of prohibition to restrain the circuit judge from taking any further steps in the case until after making an inquiry into and determining the question of her present mental capacity. (The Supreme) court held that the presumption of competency prevailed in favor of the Queen”. (Supreme Court)
The Supreme court also found, “We think it is clear, therefore, that Kalaniana‘ole, as sole complainant, may not maintain the suit since he has no interest in the subject-matter.” The queen won the case.
An interesting side note to the queen’s legal matters relate to the role and relationship she had with WO Smith.
William Owen Smith, born at Kōloa, Kauai to missionary parents, was educated at Rev David Dole’s school at Kōloa, later attending Punahou School in Honolulu; Smith left school to go to work on a sugar plantation for three years to learn the sugar industry, working in the boiling house in winter and in the fields in summer.
Smith was Sheriff of Kauai for two years and Maui for two years. He later became a lawyer and state legislator.
During the revolutionary period, Smith was one of the thirteen members of the Committee of Safety that overthrew the rule of Queen Liliʻuokalani (January 17, 1893) and established the Provisional Government.
He then served on the executive council of the Provisional Government and was sent to Washington DC when the proposed Organic Act for the Government of Hawaiʻi was pending before Congress.
When not filling public office, Mr. Smith had been engaged in private law practice and was affiliated with various law firms during his long career.
Smith and his firm wrote the will for Princess Pauahi Bishop that created the Bishop Estate. As a result of this, Pauahi recommended to Queen Liliʻuokalani that he write her will for the Liliʻuokalani Trust (which he did.)
As a result, Liliʻuokalani and Smith became lifelong friends; he defended her in court, winning the suit brought against her by Prince Jonah Kūhiō. (KHS)
Speaking of his relationship with the Queen, Smith said, “One of the gratifying experiences of my life was that after the trying period which led up to the overthrow of the monarchy and the withdrawal of Queen Liliʻuokalani, the Queen sent for me to prepare a will and deed of trust of her property and appointed me one of her trustees”. (Nellist)
Smith was also a trustee of the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Estate from 1884-1886 and 1897-1929, the Lunalilo Estate, the Alexander Young Estate and the Children’s Hospital.
On April 24, 1873, while serving as Sheriff on Maui, WO Smith planted Lāhainā’s Indian Banyan to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first Protestant mission in Lāhainā.
Today, shading almost an acre of the surrounding park and reaching upward to a height of 60 feet, this banyan tree is reportedly the largest in the US.
Its aerial roots grow into thick trunks when they reach the ground, supporting the tree’s large canopy. There are 16 major trunks in addition to the original trunk in the center.
Back to the land that Kūhiō made claim to, it helped to form the Lili‘uokalani Trust, “a private operating foundation founded in 1909, for the benefit of orphan and destitute children with preference given to Native Hawaiian children.
“A diversified portfolio of real estate, marketable securities and private investments provides the resources to support mission-related programs and activities.” (Lili‘uokalani Trust)
Author Evelyn Cook noted in a newspaper interview related to the book she wrote about WO Smith’s father, ‘100 Years of Healing: The Legacy of a Kauai Missionary Doctor’, “Today, the prince is worshipped, and WO Smith is vilified. But who is the hero and villain? People don’t know their own history.” (Command)