Posted tagged ‘law enforcement’

On the legal front … dubious priorities and values

May 5, 2011

USA Today and the Star-Advertiser report that Hawai‘i Attorney General David Louie might be interested in joining Utah in a lawsuit challenging the legality of the college football Bowl Championship Series.

Utah AG Mark Shurtleff argues the BCS violates antitrust law by depriving equal access to top bowl bids to schools like the University of Hawai‘i that don’t belong to BCS conferences.

It was a pet issue of Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s when he was in Congress, but I’m not seeing where Hawai‘i has enough of a beef for it to be worth the time and expense of getting involved in the lawsuit when we have more pressing concerns.

The only year UH played well enough to be worthy of a BCS appearance, in the undefeated season of 2007-2008, the Warriors received an invitation to the BCS Sugar Bowl. We didn’t exactly prove we belonged in the 41-10 loss to Georgia.

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A couple of court cases yesterday:

• Honolulu prosecutors threw the book at former beauty queen Susan Shaw in a $200,000 identity theft and credit card fraud case, refusing to negotiate the charges, and she was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

• Retired University of Hawaii math professor David Stegenga got a plea deal of five years probation with no jail time for sexually assaulting a neighbor girl from 1999 to 2005, when she was between the ages of 7 and 13, in a crime that often causes major long-term trauma for the victim.

How is this right? What are our values?

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Jackass justice

June 15, 2010

My head is spinning over the arrest on the Big Island of a Census taker in Puna for entering the property of an off-duty cop who didn’t want to be bothered.

The cop called in his buds on the force and the Census worker, 57-year-old Russell Haas, waited outside the gate for the officers to arrive, thinking they’d smooth things over and help him get the information from the recalcitrant resident.

Instead, they crumpled his Census forms and threw them at him, told him to “get the hell outta here” and arrested him for trespass when he didn’t hop to. (The Hawaii Tribune-Herald has the details here; some of the reader comments at the end are quite entertaining.)

The county prosecutor is backing the apparent police overreaction, filing misdemeanor charges against Haas that could cost him $1,000 and 30 days in jail.

If there’s good reason for this heavy-handed law enforcement, police and prosecutors aren’t saying. They’ve thrown up a veil of secrecy that includes refusing to name the officer who filed the complaint.

The outraged U.S. Attorney, who usually prosecutes cases, jumped in as defense counsel for Haas and petitioned to have the case transferred to federal court on O’ahu.

The way U.S. Magistrate Kevin Chang last week bent over backward to accommodate the transfer suggests Big Island prosecutors will be thrown out on their okole if they don’t drop the charges before the case proceeds further.

Our civic atmosphere is polluted and our public institutions clogged by people basically acting like jackasses over inconsequential matters.

This story has circulated around the country, naturally, adding to the growing impression among our fellow Americans that we’re seriously conflicted in Hawai’i as to whether we want to be part of the union.

And it adds to the increasing reputation of my beloved Big Island as an uncouth backwoods.

Law enforcers over there still haven’t wiped the Peter Boy egg off their faces in the minds of many, and it’s disturbing that they’re not smart enough to realize they can’t keep looking like bumbling fools.


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