HONOLULU (KHON2) — From court hearings, screening and preparing cases, prosecutors have a heavy workload and their schedule runs around the clock. Former City Prosecutor, Megan Kau, said it varies by division, but a typical deputy in misdemeanors will handle about 100 cases a day.
“You’re in court from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and you have a break from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. and then you’re in court from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and so basically, between 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. you’re prepping all of the cases for the next day,” said Kau.
It’s a demanding job and Honolulu Prosecutor Steve Alm said he needs more people willing to do it. Right now the caseload is split between 89 deputies, but the police officer’s union said some non-violent cases are slipping through the cracks.
“They had an auto theft arrest and suspect didn’t meet the immediate charging criteria, then the suspect was released. The detective called the screening deputy to make an appointment. They gave him a date of August. We know that the prosecutors are short, but to release somebody on a felony and wait five months to confer with the prosecutors again, I think that’s unacceptable.”Robert Cavaco, SHOPO president
When someone is arrested, prosecutors only have 48 hours to charge them or turn them loose.
Alm said one reason why a suspect may be released and charged later is prosecutors need more time to review footage from police body cameras.
“A detective will investigate, sit down and talk to a prosecutor and maybe do follow-up investigations,” said Alm. “Again, proof beyond a reasonable doubt and reviewing all the body cam footage. So those cases will get charged but just not as fast.”
Alm is pushing for funding to get 15 more prosecutors on staff as well as raise salaries since Oahu has the lowest average salary for prosecutors in the state. He said Mayor Rick Blangiardi has included it in his budget, but it will be up to the City Council to sign off on it.
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“Part of why I ran was to get this office back on track and make it a place people want to come work with the idea that we’re going to do justice, not just win cases,” Alm said.