HONOLULU (KHON2) — “Justice delayed is justice denied,” those are the words from Honolulu Prosecutor Steve Alm as jury trials resume. They were previously put on hold due to the omicron surge with the most recent pause from Dec. 23 to Feb. 28.
The Prosecutor’s office is ready to see the wheels of the justice system turn once again.
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“We’re really happy to get started again,” said Alm. “I think so far we’re looking at four or five this week. We hope to get even more by the end of the week to get started and just continue that in the weeks ahead.”
The return to normal will allow both sides to fight for justice.
“Victims have been sitting for two years without any type of closure and defendants have been sitting in custody, some of them without their day in trial,” said Megan Kau, a defense attorney.
A spokesperson for the Hawaii State Judiciary said although there was a pause, there have been about 100 jury trials during the pandemic. However, legal experts have said those were mostly less serious cases.
“For the majority of the past two years, all the cases whether they were petty misdemeanors, misdemeanors, felonies, murders or attempted murders, they were all being delayed,” Kau said.
The delay is dishing out some challenges in court and it is something Kau is seeing.
“We had a witness ready to testify two years ago and now that there’s been such a long delay, he is no longer cooperative. He doesn’t want to come to court,” said Kau.
The judiciary added that the return of jury trials will address the backlog as courts work through cases, including parties reaching plea agreements.
“As long as the plea negotiations work out, so it’s good for the people of the state of Hawaii, we will enter into those,” Alm said.
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“Now that we’re open, we’re going to be able to see some resolution and some closure for everybody,” Kau said.