comscore 2020 Election: Dwight K. Nadamoto | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

2020 Election: Dwight K. Nadamoto

  • Dwight Nadamoto
Name on ballot:

Dwight K. Nadamoto

Running for:

Honolulu prosecuting attorney

Political party:

Non Partisan

Campaign website:

Current occupation:

Acting Prosecuting Attorney of Honolulu



Previous job history:

Acting Prosecuting Attorney 2019-2020
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney 2010-2019
Deputy Attorney General 1997-2008
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney 1989-1997
Deputy Attorney General 1981-1989

Previous elected office, if any:


Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Hawaii.

I have been a prosecutor for over 30 years. I have prosecuted murder, white collar, sex trafficking, drug, public corruption, and organized crime cases. I have written appellate briefs to our appellate courts and argued before them.

What will be your top priority if elected?

Public safety should be a prosecutor’s top priority. My priority will be closing the revolving door that has allowed convicted felons free only to commit new crimes. Those who accept and excel in rehabilitation and treatment programs will be allowed to remain on probation. However, I will not be lenient on those who squander this opportunity.

I will also focus on proposing and passing laws that will make it easier and more effective to prosecute offenses such as domestic violence and crimes against the elderly.

Did you support the release of some inmates to fight the spread of COVID-19 in prisons and jails? Please explain.

My opposition to the dangerous COVID-19 release program is well documented in the Star Advertiser and other media outlets. I did not support the release of inmates. My office filed hundreds of motions to keep those charged with murder, rape, robbery, and other dangerous crimes in prison. While the worst were not freed, hundreds of others were with little or no supervision. As a result, nearly a third have been rearrested.

The Supreme Court sanctioned this release freeing people without requiring them to have a residence or means of support. The COVID-19 program jeopardized public safety. I was the only candidate to speak out against it. Moreover, the inmates were not given a date to return. Now law enforcement must track them down to ensure they finish the rest of their lawful sentences.

What is the most effective way to reduce crime on Oahu?

We must overhaul our probation programs and get serious about drug driven crime.

Probationers are responsible for an alarming number of crimes. Burglaries, robberies, and purse snatching from our kupuna are committed for drug money. Methamphetamine continues to be a big problem and it is growing. HOPE probation allows offenders to spin through the revolving door without any meaningful consequence. Those who cannot overcome their drug problem on the outside must do it in prison.

I would also employ a strategy called intelligence based prosecution. I have done this before. This strategy concentrates resources against offenders who repeatedly commit crimes. I assign specific deputy prosecuting attorneys trained in intelligence based prosecution to work with police and quickly charge those identified as serial offenders.

Given the budget constraints of county government, are there certain crimes you would prioritize or de-prioritize in terms of prosecution?

No. My office will not look the other way while crime persists. I am not a defense attorney or judge willing to accept certain crimes. I am a prosecutor whose job is to uphold the law and promote public safety. Violent crimes are a priority especially against our kupuna. They are a priority because victims of murder, assault, sex assault, and other violent crimes deserve protection and support from victims advocate groups and prosecutors.

Do you support reforms to policing in Hawaii? If yes, please explain what reforms you support.

The vast majority of HPD officers do a wonderful job serving the public. HPD has not had the same problems as mainland police departments have had. That being said, some officers have violated the public trust. In order to maintain this trust, I support public access to names of police officers suspended or fired because of misconduct.

Also, whenever there is a police involved shooting, I support another law enforcement agency sending representatives to do a separate investigation. This would ensure the validity of the police investigation. Transparency is key to public trust in the police department.

What specific measures would you take to prevent a repeat of the abuses by convicted deputy prosecutor Katherine Kealoha?

Katherine Kealoha’s despicable behavior victimized family and friends and cast a shadow over the office. She shattered public confidence violating basic conflict of interest policies. I have been working the past 16 months to repair the damage. I have reviewed all cases involving Katherine Kealoha looking for irregularities. We have referred some of those cases to the Attorney General’s office.

I have instituted internal safeguards to assure accountability and prevent anything that could be considered inappropriate. At least two supervisors must review all plea agreements and case dismissals. I have asked all staff to report any suspicious or unethical behavior. I have provided them with a means to anonymously report such behavior. We recently installed encryption software to track emails and computer usage. This guards against sensitive information being sent to the wrong person.

What would you do to restore trust and transparency in the Department of Prosecuting Attorney?

I will continue to be transparent and accessible to the community. During the recent spate of violent crimes, I attended neighborhood board meetings to learn the community’s concerns.

We will earn the public’s trust by putting victims first. We listen to victims’ concerns and keep them aware of developments in their cases. Victims are consulted regarding all plea agreements. Their input is a priority.

We have solidified our relationship with other law enforcement agencies. We have worked well with HPD, Homeland Security investigators and other federal investigators during the past year. We will fight to shut the revolving door that lets dangerous offenders free again and again. We will continue to oppose dangerous initiatives like the COVID-19 release program.

Is there anything more that you would like voters to know about you?

My priority is public safety. No other candidate has the commitment to public safety that I do.

Candidate Steve Alm is the architect of HOPE probation which gives probationers chance after chance. A 2018 intensive study by the Justice Department concluded that HOPE probation “offers false hope”.

Other candidates are defense attorneys. Defense attorney Megan Kau has built a career defending dirty police officers, including the officer recently sentenced to 4 years in prison for forcing a man to lick a urinal. She also represents dangerous criminals including those charged with murder and attempted murder.

Deputy Public Defender Jacquie Esser was a huge proponent of the COVID-19 inmate release program. She personally argued for dangerous people to be set free.

The most reliable predictor of future behavior is past behavior. I have been committed to public safety for the last 30 years. No other candidate can match my commitment.

View more candidate questionnaires or see more 2020 Hawaii elections coverage.

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