Defense attorney: Inside information jeopardizes fair trial for high profile drug suspect
An unusual request in a high profile drug case made it difficult for Circuit Court Judge Rom Trader to proceed in a hearing Tuesday afternoon.
Trader called for multiple recesses in an effort to get Tiffany Masunaga to reveal sensitive information regarding her situation to the new deputy prosecutors to whom her case has been assigned.
Through her attorney, however, Masunaga refused. She believes sharing the information would put her in danger.
Masunaga was arrested during a police raid in August of 2015 at a Moiliili home with her boyfriend, then-Honolulu police officer Alan Ahn, who has since pleaded 'no contest' to multiple drug charges. He is scheduled to be sentenced in April.
But Masunaga's new attorney, William Harrison, says there's a conflict that makes it impossible for her to have a fair trial in Honolulu.
Masunaga's original attorney was Myles Breiner, and the original deputy prosecutor assigned to the case was Katherine Kealoha. Breiner has since begun representing Kealoha, who is being investigated by the FBI in an alleged public corruption scandal.
Harrison wants the case moved to another county or the Attorney General's Office, because Kealoha still works in the Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney's office. In a motion filed on February 9, Harrison asked that the agency be disqualified from the matter and that records in the case be sealed.
"If we give this information that discloses the conflict, it can be used against my client," Harrison said.
The judge struggled with his decision, acknowledging Harrison's reputation as an officer of the court with an extensive career, more than 35 years.
Trader says he knew Harrison would not file a motion like this frivolously.
Still, after more than an hour and a half of deliberating, Trader denied Harrison's motion, saying, "if you do not disclose the information to the court, or to the prosecutors, then it's virtually impossible to rule on this motion."
Harrison says he has no problems revealing the details to another prosecutor's office, just not to a Honolulu agency. He will now try again to have the case moved, possibly to federal court.
Breiner says he made it clear to Masunaga when he also started representing Deputy Prosecutor Kealoha, even asking her to sign a waiver, but decided anyway to voluntarily remove himself from her case.
Masunaga, though, tells Hawaii News Now that Briener's claims are not true. She says she fired Breiner because of the conflict, and he sent her a bill for tens of thousands of dollars in response.
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