An effort to impeach embattled Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro is still alive after a state judge denied the prosecutor’s attempt to have the petition thrown out.
A local businessman initially filed the impeachment petition in December after Kaneshiro received a target letter in the federal corruption probe involving his former deputy prosecutor, Katherine Kealoha, and her husband, former police chief Louis Kealoha.
Since the initial filing, the petition has been amended once and now the businessman, Tracy Yoshimura, is seeking to use electronic signatures created with a digital verification tool.
Kaneshiro’s attorney, William McCorriston, tried to get the case dismissed, citing procedural issues, but First Circuit Judge Jeffrey Crabtree decided Monday it will move forward.
“We’re stoked,” said Yoshimura.
He said he was the target of an unfair investigation and raids led by the prosecutor on his game room businesses. He and other business owners sued Kaneshiro and his top deputy at the time, Kealoha, in January 2018.
The actual impeachment hearing has not begun. At the next court proceeding, scheduled June 24, the judge will hear arguments about whether Yoshimura should be allowed to amend the petition a second time.
He wants to use signatures that were gathered using a tool called DocuSign, a verification service for electronic signatures. Previously, he was using signatures he gathered through the website Change.org.
The city charter requires an impeachment petitioner to collect more than 500 signatures.
State law says electronic signatures can be accepted, but the City and County of Honolulu contended they can’t be, said Keith Kiuchi, Yoshimura’s attorney.
There are exceptions to the state law that allow government agencies to decide based on a set of criteria. Kiuchi and his client, Yoshimura, said the city’s civil attorneys are trying to “stonewall” the impeachment proecess by doing so.
Honolulu’s Corporation Counsel is not a party to the case, though it does represent the City Clerk’s Office, which has to decide whether electronic signatures can be used, said city spokesman Andrew Pereira.
The process to determine whether Kaneshiro will be removed from office would likely begin in July if the petition process is approved, Kiuchi said.