A petition to impeach Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro has been submitted to Circuit Court, and could ultimately lead to a judge being asked to weigh in.
The case has been assigned to a judge, but a trial date has not been set. Petitioners say Kaneshiro is endangering the cases handled by his office by not stepping down.
The petition was turned in to the clerk’s office with more than 800 signatures. At least 500 signatures from registered voters on Oahu are needed.
It was started by Tracy Yoshimura, who was charged with illegal gambling by Kaneshiro’s office, but then had the case tossed out by a judge for lack of evidence. Yoshimura then sued the prosecutor’s office.
Chief deputy prosecutor Chasid Sapolu took a leave of absence last week after announcing that he may be the subject of a federal investigation.
Former deputy prosecutor Katherine Kealoha was indicted last year for corruption, bank fraud, and identity theft.
Yoshimura says with Kaneshiro still in office, the integrity of the office is being compromised.
“With criminals being possibly having their cases overturned and getting released to roam the streets combined with a tremendous expense to taxpayers to have to revisit all the cases that will be challenged is the main reason why we’re taking this action,” said Yoshimura.
Also calling for the impeachment is Nonohe Botelho, whose son Joel was killed in 2011. Makuola Collins was convicted, but that case was overturned. He’s now challenging the plea deal his attorneys worked out with prosecutors.
Botelho is concerned for other families out there who face the same outcome with Kaneshiro remaining in office.
“This has a tremendous impact for victims and their families and nobody’s talking about that. When you get a notice that a defendant was dismissed and the case is overturned, I cannot tell you how devastating that is to families,” she said.
The signatures will have to be verified before a hearing is scheduled. It’s not clear how long that will take.
KHON2 asked the Hawaii State Judiciary on how the process will move forward, but a spokeswoman declined to comment.