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Judge inclined to grant new trial in Katherine Kealoha’s civil case against family, attorney says

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  • GEORGE F. LEE / Feb. 12, 2015

    Florence Puana, center, and her son Gerard Puana left court following the verdict in a suit against Katherine Kealoha in 2015 when the Puanas were found liable by the jury for more than $658,000 to be paid to Kealoha. A state judge said today that he was inclined to grant a new trial in the case after Kealoh’a fraud conviction earlier this year.

  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA / June 28

    Katherine Kealoha attends bail hearing at Federal Court in June.

A state judge today said he was inclined to grant a new trial in the civil dispute between Katherine Kealoha and her grandmother and uncle but the case needs to be sent back from an appellate court before the judge can do so, according to the attorney for Kealoha’s relatives.

At a Circuit Court hearing this morning, Judge James McWhinnie indicated he was inclined to grant the motion by Florence Puana, Kealoha’s grandmother, and Puana’s son Gerard for a new trial but couldn’t do so while the case was before the Intermediate Court of Appeals, according to Gerald Kurashima, the attorney for the Puanas.

The Puanas were appealing a 2015 jury verdict that awarded Kealoha more than $650,000 in damages after a trial held for a 2013 lawsuit that the Puanas had filed against Kealoha, a former deputy prosecutor. They accused her of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from them.

Kealoha recently was convicted of conspiracy and obstruction of justice in a federal criminal trial, and evidence that U.S. prosecutors produced during that proceeding was cited by Kurashima in his motion to argue for a new trial.

Kurashima said the evidence in the federal case showed Kealoha lied about a trust document that was important to the civil case and represented a “fraud upon the court” when Kealoha denied at the civil trial that she prepared and signed the document.

Kealoha, her husband, former Honolulu police Chief Louis Kealoha, and two police officers were convicted in the federal case of trying to frame Gerard Puana for the 2013 theft of the Kealoha’s mailbox and then lying to federal authorities about their actions.

The 2013 lawsuit that the Puanas filed against Katherine Kealoha was a motive for the Kealohas to try frame Puana, federal prosecutors said.

Correction: Florence Puana’s son is Gerard Puana. An earlier version of this story had an incorrect first name.
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