Retired U.S. Attorney and Circuit Court Judge Steve Alm was sworn in today as Honolulu prosecuting attorney, bringing a leadership team of many veterans of the prosecutor’s office.
“I realize there’s a lot of talent already in the office,” he said during a short ceremony at the Blaisdell Center. “In fact, most of the people I have appointed to positions of leadership … are already in the office.”
Alm was sworn in by Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald.
Dozens of deputy prosecutors were at the Blaisdell and also took the oath of office.
Thomas Brady, a career prosecutor, was sworn in as Alm’s first deputy prosecuting attorney.
Alm, 67, won the election for the city’s prosecuting attorney in November against former Honolulu Deputy Prosecutor Megan Kau. He received 55.5% of the votes. Alm collected nearly 200,000 votes, compared to Kau’s 160,000.
Both candidates ran on a platform of restoring trust to an office that has been marred by the corruption scandal involving another former Honolulu deputy prosecutor, Katherine Kealoha, and her husband, former Honolulu Police Department Chief Louis Kealoha, who have since been convicted of federal crimes and sentenced to prison.
The city’s new prosecuting attorney is the first elected since Keith Kaneshiro, who’s been on paid leave since March 2019 after being named a target of the federal investigation into the Kealohas.
Dwight Nadamoto had been serving as acting prosecuting attorney. Nadamoto lost his bid to stay in the job during the August primary election.
While restoring trust to the Department of the Prosecuting Attorney is Alm’s top priority while in office, the Honolulu native said he will also institute ethics and trial-skills training for deputy prosecutors, look into restructuring the office to best serve the needs of the criminal justice system and its victims, and create specialized teams of deputy prosecutors.
He will have to also deal with internal rules and policies that the Honolulu City Auditor in December found were inadequate in monitoring for misconduct and handling staff complaints.
Alm was appointed as a Hawaii Circuit Court judge in 2001 and retired in 2016. In 1994, President Bill Clinton chose him to be Hawaii’s U.S. attorney.
He can be the city’s prosecuting attorney for up to eight years, served in two four-year terms. Kaneshiro served three terms in office, which had no term limit until a charter amendment passed in November’s election.