Huge jury pool needed for Kealoha trial
The conspiracy trial against the Kealohas, what some consider the "Trial of the Century" in Hawaii, is scheduled to start next month. It's so big that jury selection will take place away from Federal Court.
The conspiracy trial against the Kealohas, what some consider the "Trial of the Century" in Hawaii, is scheduled to start next month.
It's so big that jury selection will take place away from Federal Court.
The Blaisdell Center is where expos and festive events are usually held, but the judiciary is looking at using a ballroom there. It is needed to accommodate hundreds of prospective jurors. That large number will be whittled down to the final 12 before the trial begins.
For former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his wife Katherine, a former deputy prosecutor, along with several other HPD officers, their upcoming federal trial is critical, but just how important is this court case for the state of Hawaii?
"It is a lot bigger than the Deedy murder case, a lot bigger than the Naeem Williams capital murder case. Because of who is involved in it: the top level prosecutor and the ex-chief of police," said former trial attorney Kenneth Lawson.
"It is important to Hawaii, because she is a public official and there are allegations of her breaching public duties and responsibilities to the citizens of Hawaii, so yes it is a big deal," stated Honolulu resident Sandy Ma.
So would she like to sit on the jury of this important case?
"If selected I would do my civic duty," added Ma.
She could be one of the more than 400 prospective jurors the court anticipates calling in. Enough to fill up the empty Pikake Ballroom at the Blaisdell.
The space is needed, according to the clerk's office, so current cases at federal court wouldn't be disrupted.
There potential jurors would be questioned by both the prosecution and defense on whether they can be fair and impartial in a case most people have heard about.
"If those jurors say, 'yeah I've seen it, I watch it every night on the news. But I haven't made up my mind yet, and I can sit here and listen to the evidence and then make a decision. And I can be a fair juror'. If that happens you can seat a jury," added Lawson.
But he added, don't expect that to be a quick process.
Jury selection alone could take days.
Still some residents would like to serve.
"I think any court case is appealing to me, because I am interested in the whole process and our democracy," said Honolulu resident Liyan Wan.
"You got jurors that want to sit on this case. Can you imagine? Its the case of the century," exclaimed Lawson.
Attorneys will be looking to see what a person's motivation is for wanting to sit in the jury box.
People they will try to sway with evidence and arguments.
"Trials come down to who tells the best story with the evidence that is presented," stated Lawson.
Whoever is picked for the jury could be at the courthouse for quite a while. The trial is expected to take weeks, but could stretch into months depending on how much evidence is admitted. Which has some people reluctant to be on the jury, like Pearl City resident Ryan Abe, "It seems like it is going to be a while, so probably not."
"All of us as citizens, part of our duty is serving as a juror. It is painful, but it is one of the most important things you can do," added Lawson.
Jury summons will go out next week, unless attorneys object by Monday at noon.
If there are no objections, then jury selection would begin on March 18th.
All this effort is just for the first trial.
The process could be repeated for the other cases against the Kealohas as well.