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Government misconduct shakes up procedures in meth trial

By Associated Press


A judge has dealt federal prosecutors in a Hawaii meth ring trial a setback by ruling that the government was "sloppy" and "tardy" in providing discovery materials to the defense.

U.S. District Judge Leslie Kobayashi ruled Wednesday that she won't dismiss the case against the six men who are on trial, but will allow certain witnesses to be recalled. She said the jury will be told it's because of government misconduct.

The judge is also referring Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Loo to the Department of Justice's office of professional responsibility.

Loo didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

The trial resumed Thursday. An 18-count indictment alleges Fouina Toilolo, Aloalii Tootoo, Kaisa Tai, Harry Akana, Daniel Fola and Walter Dominguez were part of a conspiracy involving hundreds of pounds of crystal methamphetamine.

Defense attorneys sought dismissal of the case because of "repeated and continuing discovery abuses and violations," including not providing agreements with eight cooperating witnesses until after some of them had testified and making false statements to the judge about complying with discovery obligations.

A defense motion to dismiss accused the prosecution of "flagrant misconduct."

Kobayashi said that although she was "troubled by the government's conduct," she couldn't dismiss the case. She said she can't conclude the government acted in bad faith.

In a court filing arguing against dismissing the case, Loo said doing so would be "severe and drastic."

"In this case, the government concedes that it has been negligent in complying with its discovery obligations but submits that dismissal of the indictment is unwarranted because the defendants have failed to establish flagrant misconduct, failed to establish substantial prejudice and failed to establish that no lesser sanction will ameliorate or remedy the situation," said Loo's Dec. 30 memorandum.


Jennifer Sinco Kelleher, Associated Press

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Mythman wrote:
Wish some of the clowns sitting in state courts could meet the high standards exemplified by this federal court judge, Kobayashi. Nice work Judge K. We need more like you.
on January 10,2014 | 05:30AM
Macadamiamac wrote:
I agree with your latter statement, but not your first. You paint with too broad a brush.
on January 10,2014 | 08:09AM
lee1957 wrote:
The judge can't find enough evidence to conclude the government acted in bad faith, but the government concedes it has been incompetent. Illegal or incompetent? Either way the government as at least one attorney that should be shown the door.
on January 10,2014 | 10:51AM
vizzn808 wrote:
The government not providing agreements until AFTER their witnesses take the stand so that the defense can't cross examine them effectively more than once and lying to the judge in her courtroom enough for her to be "troubled by the governments conduct"- WOW The prosecutor didn't drop the ball, he was basically dribbling. Loo should be fired.
on January 10,2014 | 09:17PM
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