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Judge rejects Katherine Kealoha’s request to postpone trial

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / March 28

    Former Deputy Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha’s attempt to have her trial postponed due to the partial government shutdown was rebuffed today by a federal judge. Kealoha arrives at federal court for an arraignment.

A federal judge today denied a request by former city Deputy Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha to postpone her upcoming trial because of the partial government shutdown.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard L. Puglisi told Kealoha’s court-appointed attorney Cynthia Kagiwada that there was not an adequate foundation to convince him that Kealoha and the other defendants with court-appointed lawyers cannot receive competent counsel consistent with the Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial.

Pulglisi noted that almost all the bills submitted to date in the case have been paid and that lawyers tend to be paid on a lagging basis anyway.

“I don’t see that as an issue that goes to effective assistance of counsel,” he added.

Jury selection in the case against Kealoha, her husband, former Police Chief Louis Kealoha, and three former members of the Honolulu Police Department’s Criminal Intelligence Unit is scheduled to start in March. The defendants — three of whom have court-appointed attorneys — are charged with conspiring to frame a Kealoha relative with stealing the Kealohas’ mailbox and lying about it to federal investigators to cover up their actions.

Prior to the ruling, Kagiwada told the judge that she expects to spend hundreds of hours over the next several months preparing for the case, with no indication on when payments will be received — a hardship for someone running a solo practice. She also said the uncertainty pegged to the partial government shutdown also is affecting her ability to consult with expert witnesses and presents problems related to covering expenses for travel, copying and other matters.

The judge said he will continue to monitor the situation.

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