HONOLULU (AP) — To avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, the Hawaii attorney general’s office will take over prosecution of protesters arrested for blocking construction of a giant telescope.

Big Island prosecutor Mitch Roth said Wednesday he turned over the cases in response to an Associated Press story highlighting concerns that his son’s employment with a telescope partner is a possible conflict.

His son works at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Those who work at that research facility are employed by the California Institute of Technology, a Thirty Meter Telescope partner.

Roth says he doesn’t believe it’s a conflict, but he asked for opinions from the state Office of Disciplinary Counsel and the county’s ethics board.

Attorney General spokesman Krishna Jayaram says it’s unfortunate “mere allegations of a conflict became newsworthy.”

Will you help us?

There are upsides to being a nonprofit as we carry out our public-service mission. We don’t have a paywall on our site, charge a subscription fee, or clutter our articles with ads. But this also means that reader support sustains every aspect of what we do. Without you, we don’t exist. It’s as simple as that. By donating, you’re supporting everyone on staff—and allowing unbiased, factual, honest journalism to thrive. If you value our work, will you make a tax-deductible donation today?

About the Author