Civil Beat Topics

Honolulu City Prosecutor

The Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney is the lead prosecutor in the city and in charge of the Department of the Prosecuting Attorney‘s office. The current city prosecutor for Honolulu is Keith Kaneshiro.

Kaneshiro replaced former city prosecutor Peter Carlisle, who served as mayor from 2010 to 2012. Kaneshiro won the office in a special election with 83,055 votes, or 40.1 percent.

The prosecutor typically takes office at noon on Jan. 2 and serves a four-year term. They are not limited in how many terms they may serve.

According to the Honolulu City Charter, the city prosecutor has the following duties, functions and powers:

A) The prosecutor will “Attend all courts in the city and conduct, on behalf of the people, all prosecutions therein for offenses against the laws of the state and the ordinances and rules and regulations of the city.”

B) The prosecutor will “Prosecute offenses against the laws of the state under the authority of the attorney general of the state.”

C) The prosecutor will “Appear in every criminal case where there is a change of venue from the courts in the city and prosecute the same in any jurisdiction to which the same is changed or removed. The expense of such proceeding shall be paid by the city.”

D) The prosecutor will “Institute proceedings before the district judges for the arrest of persons charged with or reasonably suspected of public offenses, when the prosecuting attorney has information that any such offenses have been committed, and for that purpose, take charge of criminal cases before the district judges either in person or by a deputy or by such other prosecuting officer or in such other manner as the prosecuting attorney shall designate with approval of the district court or in accordance with statute; draw all indictments and attend before and give advice to the grand jury whenever cases are presented to it for its consideration; and investigate all matters which may properly come before the prosecuting attorney.”

The prosecuting attorney must be a registered voter of the City and County of Honolulu, they must be a licensed attorney in good standing with the Supreme Court of Hawaii, they must have practiced law for at least five years and they must have been actively involved in criminal cases for at least three years within 10 years of being elected as the prosecuting attorney.

Honolulu has had four city prosecutors in its history.

Charles Marsland served in the position from 1981 to 1988. Kaneshiro was elected twice before, from 1989 to 1996. Carlisle served from 1996 to 2010. And Kaneshiro is now back. This term will end in 2012.

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Honolulu City Prosecutor