HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Travelers charged with violating the mandatory 14-day quarantine are being ordered to leave their isolation location — in some cases, violating the mandatory quarantine order again — to appear for court proceedings.
The conference room on the second floor of the Leiopapa A Kamehameha tower is reserved for the arraignment and plea because the courthouse is mostly closed due to COVID-19.
The defendants have to physically appear even though the other participants appear via video.
“It makes absolutely no sense,” said attorney Victor Bakke, who had clients appear last week. Both were still within the two-week quarantine period.
“This puts the public in danger, the people in that office building in danger.”
The alleged violators who post bail receive a flyer, notifying them to report to the second floor of the office tower. When the defendant shows up, that person then joins a video conference with a judge, court staff and deputy attorney general, all appearing remotely from the district court building.
Bakke said it would make more sense for the defendant to join the video conference from the quarantine location instead of going out.
“I just don’t see the logic of substituting a conference room for a courtroom,” Bakke said.
“I think they’ve created a hazardous situation and in the future, I will advise my clients not to appear in person. They can appear by video.”
Krishna F. Jayaram, special assistant to the state attorney general, said in a statement:
“The location, and how the process would be managed, was a discussion between our department, the judiciary, the public defenders and the Department of Public Safety.”
Jayaram said the state building offered a place where a defendant could physically appear if they wished. “This space that was chosen made sense as it was located close to the courthouse.”
Jayaram added the room was already set up for Zoom and Webex.
But with the recent surge in coronavirus cases in Hawaii, Jayaram said, his office is considering changing the policy to waive in-person appearances — if the Hawaii State Judiciary and Office of the Public Defender agree.