Protecting the Community
Our job is to protect the community and hold people accountable. Period.
We’ll do that, better than it has ever been done before, by applying modern prosecutorial techniques and bringing technology into the courtroom. We will also emphasize specialization, restructuring trial teams to implement crime-specific units. This will allow deputies to master their craft and be best prepared to take cases to trial, when necessary.
For those that prey on and take advantage of the vulnerable, for the inherently violent and corrupt, there will be no tolerance.
That said, my Administration will be driven by data and evidence-based results. It has become abundantly clear that incarcerating addicts and other non-violent offenders does not make us safer. Instead we are producing hardened criminals who have fewer opportunities (or incentive) to right themselves. This is illogical and wrong.
Accordingly, deputies will be instructed to work with defense counsel and the courts to find reasonable and creative solutions that assist eligible offenders. Diversion programs, rehabilitation, and restorative justice will be supported and pursued.
While being “tough on crime” might sound good on a campaign commercial, the mantra has led to broken families and unsafe streets. The time has come to dismiss this tired thinking and start being smart on crime. This will not just make us safer; it is the right thing to do.
Focus on Serious Crimes
Honolulu’s Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys are some of the most talented litigators in Hawaiʻi. Their efforts should be focused where they’re most needed: on crimes against people.
These include homicides, robberies and violent attacks, burglaries, identity theft, domestic violence, sexual assaults, trafficking, corruption, cyber-attacks and blackmail, and other significant property offenses.
If elected, my Administration will ensure – with resources, training, and proper staffing – that violators of serious crimes are held accountable and punished to the fullest extent of the law.
While my Administration will work to create a safer community by supporting initiatives that help offenders get back on their feet, the reality is that there are those who have proven they have no interest in a law-abiding life.
For these individuals, I will seek passage of legislation that empowers prosecutors to recommend significant terms of incarceration.
Specifically, where an offender has ten or more misdemeanor or felony convictions on his or her record and commits another similar offense, I will press the Legislature to give me the authority to recommend ten years of confinement if, in my discretion, I determine that the offender constitutes a continuing threat to our community. Applying the same standard, where a defendant has twenty prior misdemeanor or felony convictions, I will seek the authority to recommend a twenty-year term of incarceration.
We need more tools at our disposal to deal with irredeemable offenders. I will do what is needed to pressure our lawmakers into giving me these tools to ensure a safer Honolulu.
Walk the Walk
As your elected prosecuting attorney, I will personally try cases. While the bulk of my duties will be administrative in nature, I believe that an effective chief prosecutor must never forget what it feels like to command a courtroom and persuade a jury. You cannot lead from behind and you cannot expect your colleagues to follow you if you don’t understand what’s happening in the trenches.
Accordingly, I will walk the walk and try cases so long as I have the privilege of serving as your elected prosecutor.
Restructure Trial Teams
Trial teams will be restructured to emphasize specialization. Rather than utilizing mass units that handle an assortment of offenses – as is currently the case – we will have smaller teams, which will allow deputies to master their craft. For example, we will implement homicide teams, robbery teams, property crimes teams, trafficking teams, cybercrimes teams, domestic violence teams, elder abuse teams, etc.
By assigning deputies to smaller units, they will see similar issues over and over, which will allow them to hone their abilities and win the trials that must be won. My intent is to create precision prosecutors; scalpels rather than axes.
Additionally, we will train all deputies in “vertical charging,” meaning that deputies will handle their cases from beginning to end. Currently, most prosecutors are assigned cases well after they’ve been charged by other deputies. By minimizing this process, and requiring prosecutors to charge their own cases, there will be a greater sense of ownership and attention to detail.
Technology in the Courtroom
In modern society, juries expect evidence to be more compelling, and more hands-on, than ever before. We need to meet this expectation, not ask that juries lower the bar when dealing with questions as important as an individual’s liberty.
I will prioritize the training and use of technology (and other tools) in our courtrooms.
Prioritize Victim Needs and Communication
Our office will prioritize victims at every stage in a criminal proceeding. We will find them necessary support, regardless of their willingness to participate in ongoing cases. We will implement policy that affords victims direct contact with the deputy prosecutor assigned to their case and ensure timely responses to inquiries. We will expand the number of victim advocates so as to better assist navigation of the justice system. We will be responsive and expect to be held accountable for our conduct and results.