HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - At the public corruption trial against the Kealohas on Thursday, it was actually their civil attorney who was facing heat ― for potentially lying under oath.
Attorney Kevin Sumida was on the witness stand Tuesday and during cross-examination told special Prosecutor Michael Wheat that he was not going through records, notes during a trial break.
“Did you review documents while you were up there?” Wheat asked Sumida. “No," he replied.
Wheat asked a second time: “Were you looking through those documents?”
“No,” Sumida repeated.
Wheat asked a third time and again Sumida denied it.
[Special Section: The Case Against the Kealohas]
Fast forward two days and the prosecution was prepared to show Sumida hadn’t been telling the truth.
They entered into evidence video of the courtroom that shows Sumida thumbing through the records that he says he hadn’t touched during the break.
And they called up a witness, U.S. Marshal for Hawaii Charles Goodwin, who testified that he’d seen Sumida looking through the documents.
The federal courthouse video showed a wide shot of the entire room that day — the jury had left, and defendants and prosecutors are seen milling around.
Sumida is seen thumbing through files for more than three minutes.
So why does this all matter?
Chief Judge J. Michael Seabright asked just that question to prosecutors. And the government argued the episode goes to Sumida’s credibility and is important for jurors to consider as they weigh his testimony.
After reviewing the video, Seabright confirmed Sumida was flipping through the files.
Sumida was called to testify Tuesday as a defense witness for Katherine Kealoha.
He brought his own legal files and notes for reference, which opened the door for the records to become evidence so prosecutors could review them.
In fact, Wheat seemed pleased that Sumida agreed to let him review the records he brought.
All that was ahead of that 15-minute recess.
The judge told Sumida to leave everything there,
The video not only shows Sumida flipping through the files. At one point, he also seems to drop a page onto his lap and doesn’t appear to return it. When he was dismissed, he grabbed a bag from his feet.
HNN legal analyst Ken Lawson said Sumida was “adamant” about not having reviewed the files during the break. “It affects the credibility of the whole defense,” Lawson said.
The page that appears to have been pulled out and not returned is especially troubling, Lawson said.
“There’s no reason for you to lie other than protect Katherine," Lawson said because the document would have been reviewed by prosecutors.
The Sumida issue will also almost certainly be included in the government’s closing arguments, which are scheduled for Tuesday.
Sumida did not get back on the stand to answer to the video Thursday, but he did ask for a copy of it before he left the courthouse.