Maui Mayor Michael Victorino on Tuesday named Moana Lutey to head the corporation counsel's office. Lutey, a county deputy corporation counsel, was nominated to the top post after the resignation of Patrick Wong and a decision by the state attorney general's office to drop domestic abuse charges against Wong.
Wong had been on administrative leave following his arrest on March 9.
“Ms. Lutey is an excellent attorney with the legal experience to ably lead the Department of the Corporation Counsel,” Victorino said in a news release. “Ms. Lutey’s depth of experience and commitment to public service make her exceptionally qualified to lead this important department.”
The mayor accepted Wong's resignation after reviewing the police investigation. Although the attorney general declined to prosecute the case, Victorino said: "Nevertheless, I believe it's in the best interest of the Department of Corporation Counsel and the people of Maui County for Mr. Wong to step down at this time."
Citing conflict of interest concerns, Maui prosecutor turned the case over to the attorney general's office to review. Last week, the attorney general declined to prosecute Wong. Spokesperson Krishna Jayaram said the decision was not taken lightly.
"The decision to decline prosecution of Patrick Wong was made after a careful review of all available evidence related to the incident," Jayam said in an email. This included the police reports written by responding/investigating officers, all available body camera footage, photographs, audio recorded statements, and the 911 call generated on the day of the incident.
"This review failed to demonstrate that Wong was engaged in an act of domestic violence pursuant to the laws of the State of Hawai`i. The Complainant in this case has been apprised and supports the Department’s decision."
Lutey has served as a deputy corporation counsel for 18 years and has overseen the litigation section for about 12 years. She previously worked as a deputy prosecuting attorney. She volunteered as a guardian for children, received her law degree from the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law and is a Lahainaluna High School graduate.
Her nomination is subject to confirmation by the County Council.