WAILUKU, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - For the second time in a year the Maui Police Department is embroiled in a first amendment lawsuit. The plaintiffs filed a lawsuit claiming they were on a public sidewalk passing out religious pamphlets in front of the Maui County Fair. They say they weren't shouting, blocking the way or forcing people to take anything. Still Maui police told them to leave.
Strat and Doreen Goodhue say they've passed out religious literature dozens of times on Maui without incident. But last October at the Maui County Fair they say two police officers told them they had to leave.
"He said because the fair had a permit that they had the right to control the park across the street, and the street and the sidewalk and they could decide who they wanted to be there and who they didn't," said Strat Goodhue, pastor and author. "We talked about do I have to move? And he said absolutely you must leave the area."
Strat Goodhue is a pastor, who wrote a book and spreads the Gospel. When police told them to leave they complied but were in disbelief.
"It was fairly traumatic for my wife. She's not used to being confronted by a police officer. It's the first time we've had anything like that happen to us and for myself I was just shocked," said Goodhue.
"What we're seeking is something to just finally get it through to Maui County that they need to stop doing this kind of thing. That people have the first amendment right to free speech on public sidewalks and in public forums," Matt Winter, attorney with Davis, Levin, Livingston representing the Goodhue's. "The monetary damages will only be of the amount necessary to just make sure Maui County is going to stop handling the situations in the way they've been doing."
Last year the ACLU sued over the County's sign waving law when police threatened to give citations to Martin Luther King Jr. Parade participants. The ACLU says that lawsuit was just settled and the county is changing its sign laws. It also had to pay $15,000 in legal fees and damages.
"We had reached out to the county before we filed a lawsuit and we said these laws are unconstitutional. You need to fix them. They ignored us. If they had taken our advice at the outset it wouldn't have cost them a dime," said Dan Gluck, ACLU of Hawaii.
Now there is the Goodhue's case. The Maui County spokesman says they have received the complaint and will respond in court but can't say anything else in the media. Maui County has 21 days to respond to the lawsuit.
"We certainly have no ax to grind with the police per se we just would love to see the Maui Police get on board with law in terms of what our rights are as individuals," said Goodhue.