Turning the Blaisdell into a federal courthouse for the Kealoha trial

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The Blaisdell Center is set to host an event unlike any other held there before.

Jury selection for Louis and Katherine Kealoha’s trial will likely take place at the Blaisdell in March.

That’s because federal court can’t handle the amount of prospective jurors expected to be there.

Legal experts say this is a first to move court proceedings to the Blaisdell.

But they also say it also makes senses because the jury pool will be in the hundreds.

Former police chief Louis Kealoha and his wife former deputy prosecutor Katherine, will be tried along with other police officers for corruption and obstruction of justice. 

Court officials expect about 400 prospective jurors during jury selection on March 18.

“I’ve been practicing in the federal courts since 1989 and so this is the first time that I’m aware of that the jury selection would be taking place in such a large venue,” Rustam Barbee, Louis Kealoha’s attorney said.

Logistically, Barbee says it only makes sense to hold jury selection at the Blaisdell’s Pikake Room. 

The federal courthouse would have a hard time bringing that many people in, providing parking, and doing the security checks.

“A line of 400 people waiting to get in at 8:30 in the morning you’ll be lucky to have them all in by 11 o’clock,” Barbee said.

Barbee says questionnaires were sent out to 1,500 prospective jurors. 

A large number was sent out because many would not be able to serve due to hardship, being away from their family for what could be several weeks. 

There’s also the enormous amount of publicity the case has already received.

“Most people will say yes I’ve heard of the case the issue then becomes can you put aside what you’ve heard about the case concentrate only on the evidence you hear in the four walls of the courtroom and be fair and impartial,” Barbee said.

He added attorneys from both sides will have to be efficient in whittling down the numbers. They will have a week to come to an agreement and pare down the 400 to 12 jurors and four alternates.

A hearing will be held on Friday, March 1 and Judge Michael Seabright is expected to make the final decision on holding the jury selection at the Blaisdell. 

The Kealoha trial is scheduled to start on April 1.

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