No word yet on whether the change will delay the much-anticipated corruption trial.
An experienced federal judge in Alaska will temporarily preside over a high-profile Honolulu corruption case after a local judge recused himself from the matter this week.
The federal case against former Honolulu prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro and the local businessman accused of bribing him, Dennis Mitsunaga, has been reassigned to Timothy Burgess, a former chief judge of the U.S. District Court in Alaska, according to an order signed by Mary Murguia, the chief judge of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday.
Burgess will replace Hawaii District Court Judge Michael Seabright who abruptly withdrew from the case on Wednesday without explanation just weeks before a trial was set to begin.
Murguia’s order does not explain why another Hawaii-based judge was not selected and does not address whether the last-minute shakeup will cause a delay in the trial schedule. It also doesn’t specify why Burgess’s appointment is considered temporary.
Burgess was nominated to the bench by former president George W. Bush in 2005 after serving as Alaska’s U.S. Attorney. Burgess, who the Anchorage Daily News called “the most experienced federal judge in Alaska,” technically retired in 2021 but retained senior status.
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