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No ruling on sealing evidence in case against federal agent

By Ken Kobayashi

LAST UPDATED: 03:25 p.m. HST, May 24, 2012

A state judge heard arguments but did not rule today on whether defense documents in federal agent Christopher Deedy's murder case and surveillance videos of a fatal shooting at a McDonald's Waikiki restaurant last year must be made public.

Circuit Judge Karen Ahn took the request by city prosecutors to seal the court filings under advisement and said she hopes to rule by Tuesday.

Deedy, 28, of Arlington, Va., is charged with murdering Kollin Elderts, 23, of Kailua, at the McDonald's Kuhio Avenue restaurant. The State Department special agent was here to provide security for leaders of the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference.

Deedy's court filings include his request to throw out the charge because he was acting as a federal law enforcement officer. Filings also include the McDonald's restaurant security video recordings of the shooting on the early morning of Nov. 5.

The surveillance videos recorded events at the restaurant from about 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. the morning of the shooting, which occurred at about 2:44 a.m., according to Deedy's defense.

Deedy's defense said the videos show what happened between Deedy and Elderts.

City prosecutors argued that the defense materials were filed in an attempt by Deedy's attorneys to present evidence skewed in favor of the defense and generate news coverage that would taint potential jurors.

Deedy's lawyer, Brook Hart, opposed the sealing of the documents. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser, its television news partner Hawaii News Now and the online news site Hawaii Reporter also opposed the prosecution's request.

City Deputy Prosecutor Janice Futa said in her written arguments that the filings are not related to the motion to dismiss. They "serve no purpose other than to get as much information before the public in as biased a fashion as possible to have the case 'pre-judged' in his favor before the actual trial," she said.

"The tactic is clearly prejudicial to the state and must be curtailed if the integrity of the judicial process is to be preserved," Futa said.   

Hart said the exhibits support the defense's dismissal request because the surveillance videos show what happened between his client and Elderts.

Attorneys Jeffrey Portnoy and Elijah Yip representing the three news organizations said court records presumed to be  open to the public as a matter of constitutional law.  

"The state simply relies on conclusory allegations of harmful pretrial publicity," the news media lawyers said.  "That is not enough to overcome the presumption of access."

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MalamaKaAina wrote:
If the Feds decide to remove this case from State to Fed court this is all moot.
on May 24,2012 | 04:08PM
lee1957 wrote:
There is no reason and no power for the Feds to remove the case from the State. If Deedy is deemed to have been acting within the course of his duties it will be a decision made in Judge Ahn's courtroom.
on May 24,2012 | 05:32PM
MalamaKaAina wrote:
lee 1957 you are wrong and wrong again........Only the Feds can certify whether Junior G-man was acting in or out of scope and Westfall Act gives Feds power to remove case from State court and substitute Feds as defendant in Fed court.
on May 24,2012 | 06:39PM
Changalang wrote:
An affidavit from the proper Federal authority regarding Deedy's actions as "on the clock" presented in Ahn's Court would put the onus on Judge Ahn to dismiss; or the Feds can pull the case over for Federal judicial dismissal. Hart is well versed in the manners of the Federal Court procedures since he has substantial clerk experience there from his youth. Deedy will walk, in my humble opinion.
on May 24,2012 | 07:08PM
Descartes22 wrote:
What a hypocritical prosecutor move. The shoes on the other foot. Prosecutors constantly present one-sided information to public. MalamaKaAina is correct. The Dept. of Justice could remove the case to federal court for prosecution if it deems Deedy was a federal official acting within the course of his duties. This is what happened with the census taker on the Big Island.
on May 24,2012 | 04:16PM
hapaguy wrote:
The Big Island census taker was in the act of doing his job. Deedy was out drinking and was drunk when the incident happened. He was not on the job at that time.....
on May 24,2012 | 04:39PM
lee1957 wrote:
You should contact Ms.Futa, esq. and offer up your services as an expert witness.
on May 24,2012 | 05:33PM
Changalang wrote:
Perhaps your opinion has been formed by Mr. Green, attorney for the defendant's family, tainting the jury pool with media releases that projected that same narrative days after the incident. To actual show the public what happened vs. let the jury pool assume Mr. Green is telling the truth is required. Mr. Hart is already winning. Now, if there is audio tape, then that will be even more telling of the events.
on May 24,2012 | 07:03PM
Oye_Como_Va wrote:
I was under the impression that for any Federal officer to include the Secret Service, drinking and whoring were part of their job description.
on May 24,2012 | 09:47PM
BRock wrote:
Low blow. Shameful.
on June 16,2012 | 03:01PM
ghstar wrote:
This is a case that demands full disclosure. And the idea that the Mr Deedy was on duty is preposterous. Has he been charged with dereliction of duty? Or is it okay to be drunk while on duty as a State Dept security officer? Give us a break.
on May 24,2012 | 04:59PM
Mike174 wrote:
For the people, by the people and of the people. Ha! Lawyers have hijacked this country
on May 24,2012 | 05:19PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Lawyers. Attorneys. Lol. I rather earn money the old fashioned way: Get paid the minimum wage !!!
on May 24,2012 | 08:44PM
Oye_Como_Va wrote:
Here here. A snake is a snake (Esq.) without conscience.
on May 24,2012 | 09:54PM
Ewaduffer wrote:
Must be tough to be a judge and not be able to make a decision in a timely manner.
on May 24,2012 | 07:08PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Must mean that the arguments were about 50 50.
on May 24,2012 | 08:42PM
HealthyandHappy wrote:
Records must be made public. It is essential for public citizens to have trust in our government. A closed process invites suspicion. If evidence is suppressed that benefits the government, that would send a horrid signal to government agents that their actions are above the law. This situation would be irrevocable abused.
on May 24,2012 | 10:46PM
BRock wrote:
Once again I have to comment that there is no evidence yet that the special agent was drunk. Maybe he was drinking, so what? It is known though, that the victim had a history of violence and criminal behavior. Personally, I think he miscalculated and screwed with the wrong guy, somebody who was able to defend himself. Remember the old saying, "don't start something unless you're able to finish it.".
on June 16,2012 | 03:08PM
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