Katherine Kealoha has a new defense lawyer — Earle Partington.

The revelation came as a surprise Monday during the 13th day of the criminal trial against Kealoha and her husband, Louis, who are accused along with three Honolulu police officers of framing her uncle, Gerard Puana, for the June 2013 theft of their mailbox.

Partington will help Kealoha’s current attorney, Cynthia Kagiwada, as she attempts to defend her client from a battery of criminal charges, including conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

Katherine Kealoha arrives with former HPD chief Louis Kealoha to District Court.
Katherine Kealoha has a new defense lawyer in Earle Partington. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

It’s a difficult task, especially considering the trial is more than halfway over. Federal prosecutors rested their case Monday after calling more than 50 witnesses.

“It’s mind-numbing,” Partington said in a brief interview Monday.

Partington said he was contacted by Kealoha last week about joining the case, although he said he had no prior relationship with the former city prosecutor.

He said neither Kealoha nor her husband are paying for his services and that the money is coming from their family, although he refused to specify who hired him.

“I’m really more of an advisor than anything else,” he said.

Partington said he would assist Kagiwada with various legal issues as they come up, and will likely play a role in drafting instructions for the jury once both sides have rested.

When Kagiwada was asked if she was surprised by Partington suddenly joining in her client’s defense, she said she had no comment.

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Kagiwada was appointed Kealoha’s defense lawyer by U.S. District Court Judge J. Michael Seabright after she and her husband said they couldn’t afford their own legal counsel.

Partington, who’s been practicing law for 50 years, said his last criminal trial came eight years ago when he successfully defended a Makaha woman accused of animal cruelty for bashing in the head of a squawking peacock with an aluminum baseball bat.

The woman testified during her trial that she planned to eat the bird after killing it.

Partington has been caught up in his own legal controversies. He was once suspended from practicing law after he was accused of using unsavory tactics during a court-martial appeal.

He was specifically accused of making misleading and inaccurate statements in his legal papers, a charge he vigorously denied for years.

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