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Know The Candidates Running For Honolulu Prosecutor

Honolulu Department of the Prosecuting Attorney

Honolulu voters will be choosing a new prosecutor this year, after the current one stepped down in the wake of the Kealoha corruption scandal. HPR will be profiling the major candidates running for the office up until the Aug. 8 primary election.

Wayne Yoshioka
Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Steven Alm

Steve Alm

Steven Alm started his legal career in 1985 at the Honolulu Prosecutor's Office. He was later tapped to be U.S. Attorney for the District of Hawaii, and later a judge in Honolulu's First Circuit Court.

Now Alm has his sights set on the city prosecutor's office, where he plans to rely on his experience and background to change the culture of the department, create new rehabilitation and diversion programs, and restore public trust.

Credit RJ Brown
RJ Brown
RJ Brown with his family.

RJ Brown

RJ Brown started his legal career as a deputy prosecutor after a stint as a reporter. He says he made the switch to law because he wanted to get more involved in finding solutions to the issues affecting Honolulu.

Today, he's seeking to make a difference in the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney. He says the knowledge and experience he gained as a deputy prosecutor will help him lead the department into the future.


Credit Jacquie Esser
Jacquie Esser

Jacquie Esser

Jacquie Esser has been a deputy public defender for the last decade -- arguing on the opposite side of prosecutors. Throughout her career, she says she's advocated for reforms in the criminal justice system.

Esser says she has witnessed the impacts and injustices the current system has on local families and communities. And she's running for city prosecutor to change what she calls a broken system.


Credit Megan Kau
Megan Kau

Megan Kau

Megan Kau's legal career began in 2006 at the Honolulu Prosecutor's office. She gained experience trying violent offenses while a deputy prosecutor under former prosecutor and mayor Peter Carlisle. But she left the office in 2010, after Keith Kaneshiro was elected and brought in Katherine Kealoha as her supervisor.

Kau became a criminal defense lawyer soon after to continue sharpening her legal skills. She claims she has more trial experience in the last decade than all the other candidates combined. That experience, she says, will help her "lead by example" to train deputy prosecutors and lead the office into a new era.


Credit Dwight Nadamoto

Dwight Nadamoto

Dwight Nadamoto is the acting prosecutnig attorney for Honolulu. He was appointed to the position after current prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro took paid leave shortly after receiving a target letter from a federal grand jury. 

Nadamoto is a career prosecutor, working in both the state Department of the Attorney General and Honolulu prosecutor's office over more than 30 years. He says throughout his career, he has prosecuted cases involving dirty police officers, sex trafficking rings, and more.





Credit Tae Kim

Tae Kim

Tae Kim has nearly 30 years of experience in criminal law, and is currently a criminal defense lawyer. Kim says he joined the race to change the "status quo" -- and believes the biggest challenge the department faces is transparency.

Kim says he'll attend as many monthly neighborhood board meetings to educate residents about the criminal justice system, and listen to their concerns. He believes that by being open and available, it will bring change to the system.


Casey Harlow is an HPR reporter and occasionally fills in as local host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Contact him at or on Twitter (@CaseyHarlow).
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