UH law instructor criticized for analyzing the Kealoha’s case gets key backing

Updated: Apr. 3, 2019 at 5:55 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Hawaii ACLU fired back against Rustam Barbee, the taxpayer funded attorney for ex-police chief Louis Kealoha.

(Image: Hawaii News Now/file)
(Image: Hawaii News Now/file)

Barbee sent a letter to the Dean of the University of Hawaii’s William S. Richardson School of Law calling for the firing of Ken Lawson, a frequent voice in media reports about the indictments and pending trials for Kealoha and his wife, Katherine.

It’s the latest and strongest backlash since last week when Barbee sent that letter.

“Kealoha’s attorney has the right to criticize him however he sees fit,” said Mateo Caballero of the ACLU, “But asking that he be fired for his comments it is troublesome, particularly in that kind of setting where you would hope open discussion and academic freedom are protected.”

Lawson called it bullying by the Kealohas, which he says fits into the pattern and practice the government is accusing them of.

That wasn’t the only public complaint by a Kealoha attorney.

Kevin Sumida also submitted a Letter to the Editor which appeared in Tuesday’s Star Advertiser.

Kevin Sumida, the civil attorney for the Kealohas leaves federal court
Kevin Sumida, the civil attorney for the Kealohas leaves federal court

It claimed the media reports mean the one time power couple cannot get a fair trial.

Sumida says the deck is stacked so heavily against the Kealohas — who are choosing to take on the federal government in multiple trials.

Lawson believes these letters are setting up the requests for a change of venue, to get the cases delayed again.

He says people aren’t buying it. “The public can smell this, and that’s why the backlash. And they make it seem like, the way the news is covering this is unfair, no, we’re just covering your behavior, which is repulsive.”

Lawson says the Kealohas bring it on themselves by filing so many court motions that will naturally get the attention of the media. Especially since their attorneys are being paid for using taxpayers’ dollars.

Sumida even convinced the Honolulu Police Commission to use county tax dollars to pay him.

Hawaii News Now has reached out to Kevin Sumida a number of times to try to get comment and his side, he has never agreed.

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