Judge's removal sought in campaign donation case
By Johnny Brannon
Advertiser Staff Writer
The defense counsel for a prominent Honolulu attorney charged in connection with illegal campaign contributions to Mayor Jeremy Harris has asked that a judge be removed from the case for allegedly reaching premature conclusions and allegedly demanding jail time for the defendant.
In court papers, attorney Dale W. Lee said attorney Edward Y.C. Chun was prepared to plead no contest to a misdemeanor for allegedly advising a grocery chain to make the donations to Harris.
But Circuit Court Judge Steven Alm said in a meeting that he "does not allow" such pleas because they "allow the defendant to say that he hasn't done anything wrong," according to papers supporting a motion filed by Lee.
Lee then wanted to have Chun plead guilty, but "expressed doubt as to whether there was a factual basis" for the plea, the documents say.
The judge then allegedly said he believed Chun had known he was breaking the law, and that he would sentence him to jail.
Alm should be disqualified from the case because he "has a personal bias or prejudice" against Chun, according to Lee. The motion is scheduled to be heard in court Monday.
Lee could not be reached for comment. Judges are precluded from speaking publicly about pending cases, a judiciary spokeswoman said.
Chun, 71, is a senior partner in the Chun Kerr Dodd Beaman and Wong law firm. He was indicted by the O'ahu grand jury in May on two misdemeanor charges for allegedly advising a client, the Food Pantry chain, to funnel at least $9,000 in company money to Harris' campaign under the names of company employees.
In another case, the husband of a state economist was charged Friday with making a $2,000 donation to Harris under a false name. Kent Iboshi, who is married to Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism economist Pearl Imada Iboshi, has yet to be arraigned on the charge.
Reach Johnny Brannon at email@example.com or 525-8070.