Off the Beat: How to Destroy Faith in the System

Katherine Poythress/Civil Beat

Remember Lance Ito and the O.J. Simpson trial?

The circus in that courtroom sent the public a terrible message. The judge couldn't control his own courtroom. And ultimately many had their confidence in the judicial system shaken by what they witnessed.

Ito went so far as to invite attorneys and court staff into his chambers to watch the previous night's Jay Leno jokes and permitted a jury tour of Simpson's home after it had been staged by defense attorneys.

Fast forward to Honolulu and the Hawaii Labor Board hearings covered gavel to gavel by Civil Beat reporters in our live blog.

What message is the board giving by the way it's allowing these hearings to proceed and one lawyer in particular, Herb Takahashi representing the teachers union, to act?

A bad one. In the Simpson case, it was the judicial system that didn't seem to work. In the Hawaii case, it appears that we don't have a way of working out labor disputes.

The board doesn't appear serious. Its schedule displays no urgency to reach a resolution. The crazy way the hearings are proceeding, with a lawyer answering his own questions, makes it seem the people charged with getting to the bottom of this serious public issue are anything but serious about creating an environment where matters of great public interest can be worked out.

On Thursday one union attorney remarked out loud that she woke up this morning thinking it was a bad dream because she had to come to the hearing.

The hearing should build understanding. It should build confidence that we have a system that can be trusted.

Instead, the board is sending a message that the system is a joke and that it's not serious about its work.

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