Impeachment proceedings against city prosecutor move forward

New developments in the effort to oust Honolulu's prosecutor.

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The impeachment proceedings against Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro are entering uncharted legal waters.

Keith Kiuchi, who helped gather the 900 signatures for the impeachment case, said the first witness he’ll call will be the prosecutor himself.

“The first question I will ask is, ‘Did you get a target letter?’ That’s kind of like civil litigation 101 right."

Kiuchi said he’ll also subpoena Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard, who recently said she was uncomfortable having Kaneshiro at monthly law enforcement meetings on public safety.

“The media has gotten a hold of our police chief rightfully saying that she has some concerns about sharing information with Mr. Kaneshiro, who is a target," said Kiuchi.

The U.S. Department of Justice recently sent Kaneshiro a target letter informing him he is a focus of a federal public corruption investigation.

Sources said it’s linked to the indictments of the former Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his wife Katherine, Kaneshiro’s former deputy.

Despite that, Kaneshiro is refusing to step down.

“His credibility and integrity will definitely be questioned if he is convicted," said Tracy Yoshimura, who filed the impeachment petition.

Yoshimura said Kaneshiro’s office tried to convict him twice for illegal gambling but judges tossed both cases due to prosecutorial misconduct.

Among those who signed the petition include several relatives of crime victims.

“My son was murdered in 2011 and I am concerned about the current cases (and) previous cases under Keith Kaneshiro ... where major, high-profile cases have been lost,” said Nonohe Botehlo, one of those who signed.

The petitioners' remarks came after a public status conference with Circuit Judge Jeff Crabtree. Kaneshiro did not attend and his office did not respond to HNN’s request for comment.

During the status conference, deputy Corporation Counsel Paul Aoki said his office is not representing Kaneshiro. But Aoki said his office will review whether the city will pay for Kaneshiro’s defense.

He added that the City Council must also approve the hiring of outside lawyers.

Kiuchi said he requested Friday’s meeting because it’s been more than 16 years since voters last sought to impeach an elected Hawaii official. He said that since then, many of the rules for impeachment have changed.

“The last time this was done was under a completely different city charter in 2002 ... with (former City Councilmember) Rene Mansho,” Kiuchi said. “The procedures are not very clear.”

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