An arraignment was held today for U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams and an aide for allegedly violating an emergency order while at a beach park on on Oahu in August during a COVID-19 emergency order-mandated closure of the island’s beach parks.
Attorney Michael Green, who is representing Adams and his aide, Dennis Anderson-Villaluz, entered a not guilty plea on behalf of both men before Circuit judge Shirley Kawamura.
The court waived appearances for Adams and Anderson Villaluz, who were not present.
Trial has been tentatively set for December.
According to the Aug. 23 citation issued to Adams, a police officer observed Adams at Kualoa Regional Park in Kaneohe standing with two other males, “looking at the view taking pictures” shortly before 10 a.m. The officer further stated in the citation that they moved to the center of the park, where they took more photos and “Adams put his mask on as he walked back toward his vehicle.”
Adams was in Hawaii helping the state with surge testing to reduce the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. He told the officer he was working with the governor for COVID-19 and didn’t know that the parks were closed.
Green said Adams went to the park with his aide and was taking a picture while they were at the edge of the water. “The law allows him to go to the beach to see if he wants to go swimming.”
At the time of the city’s emergency’s order concerning closures of beach parks, people were only allowed to traverse beaches to access the ocean.
According to Green, Adams decided not to go swimming and was walking toward his vehicle when police cited them.
“I’m just beside myself and he’s just bewildered at what happened,” Green said outside of the courtroom today after the arraignment ended.
“I don’t think because he’s the surgeon general he has better or more rights than the average citizen but don’t make it worse and that’s what’s happening here,” he added.
“I’m hoping cooler heads will prevail and they’ll take a look at this and do the right thing for him,” Green said.
If the case does go to trial, he noted it will likely be held in the spring or summer.