Case pending before Hawaiʻi Supreme Court to look at Kealoha legal fees
The City and County of Honolulu continues to fight a 2019 decision by the Honolulu Police Commission to pay for former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha's criminal defense.
The Hawaiʻi Supreme Court may review the decision of lower courts on who will pay.
This has been a topic up for several years now.
County police commissions can decide whether an officer is entitled to defense under state law. These decisions are made well before conviction, and in this case, before Kealoha pleaded guilty.
Honolulu Corporation Counsel attorney Duane Pang, who briefed the commission on Wednesday, said the city continues to argue that Kealoha’s actions were not typical police activity.
The argument hinges on the commission's Rule 11, which is the determination of whether an act was done in the performance of an officer’s job.
“The fact that he pled guilty and was convicted does not change that your decision was proper,” Pang told the HPC.
Circuit court agreed with the commission back in 2020 that the city should pay, and the Intermediate Court of Appeals upheld it in March. Then, the city's request for reconsideration was denied.
In June, the city requested the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court review this decision, which is where the case is currently pending.