Judge’s ruling a setback for state meth ring case
By JENNIFER SINCO KELLEHER
HONOLULU — A judge has dealt federal prosecutors in a Hawaii meth ring trial a setback by ruling that the government was “sloppy” and “tardy” in providing discovery materials to the defense.
U.S. District Judge Leslie Kobayashi ruled Wednesday that she won’t dismiss the case against the six men who are on trial but will allow certain witnesses to be recalled.
She said the jury will be told it’s because of government misconduct.
The judge is also referring Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Loo to the Department of Justice’s office of professional responsibility. Loo didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.
The trial resumed Thursday. An 18-count indictment alleges Fouina Toilolo, Aloalii Tootoo, Kaisa Tai, Harry Akana, Daniel Fola and Walter Dominguez were part of a conspiracy involving hundreds of pounds of crystal meth.
Defense attorneys sought dismissal of the case because of “repeated and continuing discovery abuses and violations,” including not providing agreements with eight cooperating witnesses until after some of them had testified and making false statements to the judge about complying with discovery obligations.
A defense motion to dismiss accused the prosecution of “flagrant misconduct.”
Kobayashi said that although she was “troubled by the government’s conduct” she couldn’t dismiss the case. She said she can’t conclude the government acted in bad faith.
In a court filing arguing against dismissing the case, Loo said doing so would be “severe and drastic.”
“In this case, the government concedes that it has been negligent in complying with its discovery obligations but submits that dismissal of the indictment is unwarranted because the defendants have failed to establish flagrant misconduct, failed to establish substantial prejudice and failed to establish that no lesser sanction will ameliorate or remedy the situation,” said Loo’s Dec. 30 memorandum.
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