HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Katherine Kealoha’s attorney has filed a new court motion seeking to delay her trial due to the ongoing federal government shutdown, but legal experts say it’s just another tactic to push back the case.
The court documents say the shutdown is “impinging on Ms. Kealoha’s constitutional rights to a fair trial and effective assistance of counsel.”
Her lawyer says her defense team won’t be paid for any work until after the shutdown ends, and they can’t bring in experts and witnesses due to funding issues.
This would affect the defense team’s ability to “provide Ms. Kealoha with an adequate defense,” which they say will lead to her not receiving a fair trial.
Kealoha, a former deputy city prosecutor and her husband, the ex police chief, are accused stealing from her uncle, Gerard Puana, and her grandmother, Florence Puana, who is 99 years old.
“We are looking for some measure of justice to be put out, whatever the result may be, while they have the opportunity to testify and are still alive,” said attorney Alexander Silvert, who represents the Puanas.
Legal expert Victor Bakke also questions the motives of the latest motion to delay the trial which is scheduled for jury selection in March. He also points out that the federal prosecutors are also working without pay, “This motion seems to be very oddly timed in that these witnesses and these experts should have been arranged and been working on the case already. So it seems to be somewhat of a delay tactic to say this late in the game that now they can’t go hire experts these experts should have been hired a long time ago.”
The Kealohas already had their second trial for alleged fraud, identity theft, and other financial crimes delayed because Mrs. Kealoha claimed to have a medical issue that required time to treat. That case is now set for trial in June.
Meanwhile, the Department of Justice is bearing down on city hall.
Katherine Kealoha and her husband, former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha, as well as several police officers have all been indicted or pleaded guilty.
Honolulu’s top criminal attorney Keith Kaneshiro and two high-ranking deputies received DOJ letters.
And on Monday, the city’s top civil attorney Donna Leong also received a federal target letter.