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Mix-up with juror’s name puts dozens of criminal cases at risk

Updated: May. 26, 2021 at 11:21 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A mix-up with a state grand juror is putting criminal cases at risk, Hawaii News Now has learned.

The juror, who served the entire 2018 year on grand jury panel B, accidentally did so in place of his father. The Waianae man shares the same name as his father.

The mistake wasn’t realized until the following year, in April 2019, when the man filled out his taxes.

A 1099 form from the state Judiciary had his father’s Social Security Number instead of his.

When he realized what happened, he notified the Judiciary.

Attorney Victor Bakke said all cases heard by that panel should be dismissed and cases refiled as a result. “This is just unacceptable on so many levels,” Bakke told Hawaii News Now.

He said he plans to file a motion to dismiss the case against his client, who was preparing for trial next month on a felony sex assault charge.

Bakke said there was an old electronic filing in the case that he missed when the document was originally uploaded in November 2019.

The document explained the error and said the juror served 23 total days during the 2018 term.

Grand jury room at circuit court in Honolulu
Grand jury room at circuit court in Honolulu(None)

Bakke said the prosecutors should be forced to present the case to a new grand jury.

The issue defense attorneys have: The juror’s father may have voted differently on some of these cases or raised different questions for prosecutors.

The state Public Defender’s Office says it is giving its clients an option to have the case dismissed and then charged again or just waive the problem and continue moving forward with the case.

The office said the latter is what most are choosing so far.

A Judiciary spokesperson for the state Judiciary said 60 cases total were impacted by the mix-up and additional precautions have been taken to prevent similar situations from occurring.

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