An impeachment case against Honolulu prosecuting attorney Keith Kaneshiro will proceed next month but only after it’s determined whether city taxpayers will foot his legal bills.

First Deputy Corporation Counsel Paul Aoki told Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Crabtree on Friday that the next stop in the impeachment proceeding will likely be the Honolulu City Council. Kaneshiro can ask the city to represent him in the impeachment proceeding. Aoki indicated to Crabtree that the Department of Corporation Counsel could recommend outside counsel be hired to represent Kaneshiro.

The hiring of an outside attorney must be approved by city council members.

The status conference hearing Friday was the first before Crabtree following the Dec. 18 filing of the impeachment petition.

Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro announces a 3rd possible trial for Christopher Deedy.
Prosecuting attorney Keith Kaneshiro has neither confirmed nor denied that he’s the target of a federal investigation. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Plaintiff Tracy Yoshimura, who was once the subject of a failed prosecution by Kaneshiro’s office, took the unusual action after news reports surfaced this month that Kaneshiro is the target of a federal investigation into law enforcement in Honolulu.

Kaneshiro, who was served with the impeachment petition Thursday, did not attend the hearing. He has neither confirmed nor denied the target letter, but Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard has expressed concern that the city’s top prosecutor should not be allowed into public safety meetings if he is a target of a federal investigation.

Crabtree will have parties report back to the court Feb. 14 to give the City Council enough time to consider the issue of Kaneshiro’s legal expenses.

Honolulu’s vague laws regarding impeachment make it unclear exactly how the process will play out, Civil Beat has reported.

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