Honolulu Medical Examiner Christopher Happy will leave his post as the city’s highest paid employee at the end of the month.

Dr Christopher Happy Medical Examiner.
Dr. Christopher Happy resigned as Honolulu’s medical examiner. 

In an Oct. 17 resignation letter to Mayor Kirk Caldwell, he said he would be returning to Los Angeles to “attend to a family member’s illness.”

“I would like to thank you for allowing me to serve the people of the City and County of Honolulu these last 6 years,” he wrote. “I would like to thank the staff of the Medical Examiner’s office for the hard work and utmost professionalism they exhibit daily.”

A Caldwell appointee, Happy noted that the office had gone through “many changes” in the last six years and is now “able to” be accredited by the National Association of Medical Examiners.

“I was honored to work for your administration and the Honolulu Medical Examiner as its Chief,” Happy wrote to the mayor.

KHON quoted City Council Chair Ikaika Anderson saying that Caldwell’s administration told him it was firing Happy. He told KHON he had not heard any complaints about Happy.

Asked if the administration asked for Happy’s resignation, Andrew Pereira, Caldwell’s communications director, said only: “This is a personnel matter.” Pereira said by email that he believes he is not legally allowed to offer more information.

For the same reason, Pereira declined to say whether the administration had any complaints about Happy’s performance, but he did confirm there is a backlog of autopsy reports.

Happy has more cases pending than he has completed in the last three years, according to Pereira. The medical examiner completed 751 reports from October 2016 to October 2019, and 896 are pending, Pereira said.

Happy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Masahiko Kobayashi, Deputy Chief Medical Examiner, will serve as the acting chief medical examiner after Oct. 31, Pereira said.

“Dr. Happy came on board in late 2013, and helped to make improvements to the office, including the recruitment of other certified medical examiners,” he said. “We want to thank him for his service and wish him well as he pursues future opportunities.”

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