HONOLULU (KHNL) - An attorney representing a Kauai landowner claims the state is trying to cover up its own failure to inspect dams across Hawaii. The lawyer wants a judge to disqualify the state attorney general from serving as prosecutor in the criminal probe into the 2006 Ka Loko Dam break.
Kauai's Ka Loko Dam, owned by James Pflueger, burst in March 2006. The raging waters killed seven people, swept away homes, and took out a section of Kuhio Highway.
"Everything to escape responsibility, the state is doing," William McCorriston, Pflueger's attorney, said.
McCorriston wants to stop the state attorney general from conducting further proceedings before an investigative grand jury, which will decide whether any criminal actions led to the breach. He says the state, which faces a civil suit, has consistently blamed his client for the disaster, even though a report identifies a number of failures by the state.
"This is a deliberate attempt to single out one person to try and save the state from monetary responsibility and other public responsibility for their failure of trust," he said.
McCorriston unveils a document that, he says, shows the land director at the time tried to cover up the fact the state wasn't performing dam inspections like it was supposed to.
"I'm not going to comment on specific pieces of evidence or what others claim is evidence," Mark Bennett, state attorney general, said.
Bennett says he's done nothing unethical.
"I have played no role in the civil case in this matter," he said. "And neither I nor the prosecutors also working on this case have any conflict of interest."
He calls McCorriston's actions desperate.
"I want to make absolutely clear that I will not be dissuaded from doing my sworn duty as Hawaii's chief law enforcement officer by desperate personal attacks of any kind," Bennett said.
McCorriston says the grand jury needs to be given evidence that, he says, could clear his client of any fault.
A judge is scheduled to hear arguments on the motion next Tuesday.