William K. Meheula, III

  • Lecturer in Law

Degrees

  • JD Suffolk University Law School 1978
  • BA University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School 1975

Biography

William Meheula has over thirty years of experience litigating cases in Hawaii’s state and federal courts as well as before administrative agencies and other adjudicatory bodies. Mr. Meheula’s primary practice areas include complex commercial litigation, real estate litigation, legal malpractice, and Native Hawaiian rights.

Mr. Meheula’s real estate litigation practice involves disputes concerning purchase and sale agreements, joint venture agreements, financial agreements, entitlements including archaeological and environmental issues, construction defects, and condemnation. He has represented clients before the State Land Use Commission, Hawaii Community Development Authority, Zoning Board of Appeals, State Historic Preservation Division and other contested case hearing venues.

Mr. Meheula’s legal malpractice and ethics practice involves defending and prosecuting claims. In addition to his litigation experience in this practice area, Mr. Meheula served as the chairman of a federal and state bar committee that resulted in promulgation of the Hawai‘i Rules of Professional Conduct in 1994. Between 2003 and 2011, Mr. Meheula served on the Committee to Revise the Hawai‘i Rules of Professional Conduct.

Mr. Meheula’s Native Hawaiian Rights practice started in 1992 when he served as pro bono lead counsel representing beneficiaries of the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust against the State of Hawai‘i that resulted in a $600 million settlement payable to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. The Hawai‘i State Bar Association awarded Mr. Meheula the “Justice Award” in 1994 for his work on this case. Since then, Mr. Meheula has been extensively involved in significant legal victories for the interests of Native Hawaiians.

In 1994, Mr. Meheula served as pro bono lead counsel representing four individual Native Hawaiians to enjoin the State of Hawai‘i from selling ceded lands pending resolution of Native Hawaiian claims to those lands. In January 2008, the Hawai‘i Supreme Court enjoined the State from selling ceded lands until the claim to those lands is resolved through the political process. In March 2009, the United States Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case to the Hawai‘i Supreme Court to decide whether an injunction was warranted under State law. In July 2009, the case settled with the passage of Act 176, which prohibits the sale of ceded lands to third parties unless supported by two-thirds majority vote of both houses of the Hawai‘i legislature.

Between 2003 and 2012, Mr. Meheula represented the Office of Hawaiian Affairs against the State to enforce OHA’s right to public land trust revenues. With the passage of Act 15 in 2012, OHA settled this dispute by obtaining title to thirty acres in Kaka‘ako Makai valued at $200 million.

Mr. Meheula has lectured on commercial litigation, trial practice, legal ethics and Native Hawaiian Rights. In addition to his law practice, Mr. Meheula is an adjunct professor at the William S. Richardson School of Law where he teaches the Native Hawaiian Rights Clinic and coaches the law school’s distinguished Native American Moot Court Team.