Police chief's legal challenges to abuse of power investigation fail on several fronts

Legal challenge by Honolulu's police chief fall on multiple fronts
Published: Nov. 19, 2015 at 10:27 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 20, 2015 at 5:39 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A federal grand jury is now hearing evidence in the criminal case against Honolulu's police chief and his wife, a prosecutor, Hawaii News Now has learned.

But sources say Chief Louis Kealoha and his wife, Katherine, are putting up a fight on several fronts. And so far, it's not working. Sources say they're trying to find out about witnesses and the evidence against them in city and federal cases -- a strategy experts say could backfire.

On Thursday, a Circuit Court Judge threw out key parts of a lawsuit filed by the Kealohas -- under the names Doe and Roe.

Their attorney, Kevin Sumida, was trying to force the city ethics commission to give up evidence and witness information in abuse of power cases against the couple, something the judge refused to do.

Sumida declined comment after the hearing.

On Wednesday, Sumida also didn't want to comment outside a city ethics meeting where he tried to force dozens of people -- including police officers -- into hearings to testify "under oath."

Sources say this was an effort to find out details of the case. But that failed, too -- after Hawaii News Now ran a story about the effort, the hearings were cancelled.

The FBI and city Ethics Commission are looking into possible abuse of power by the Kealohas stemming from a case in which they accused their uncle of stealing their mailbox two years ago.

Federal Public Defender Peter Wolff says canceling the hearings was the right thing to do considering the federal grand jury hearings are taking place.

"If you're trying to find out if they're grand jury witnesses, it risks a serious concern that there's some attempt to influence the grand jury proceedings which is highly improper and probably a serious federal crime," he said.

Wolff thinks the Kealoha's attempts could cause further damage and says it would be wise for them to let the grand jury do its job.

Kealoha and the Honolulu Police Department declined comment on this story.

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