The Hawaii Supreme Court has officially restrained former Honolulu Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Katherine Kealoha from practicing law, in the first step of a process that could lead to Kealoha losing her law license completely.

The order issued Wednesday comes in response to a petition filed by the Hawaii Office of Disciplinary Counsel, which regulates lawyers.

The ODC filed the petition after a federal jury found the former high-ranking prosecutor guilty of conspiring to frame a family member who had gotten into a dispute with Kealoha over money.

Katherine Kealoha walks into District Court for sentencing. June 28, 2019.
Katherine Kealoha walking into District Court on June 28. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2019

Kealoha, her former Honolulu police chief husband Louis Kealoha and two police officers were convicted last week of conspiracy. A jury also found them guilty of three obstruction of justice charges.

On Friday, Katherine Kealoha was ordered to be detained in the Federal Detention Center until October, when she will be sentenced.

Lawyers in Hawaii are governed by a code of conduct and state laws, while the Rules of the Supreme Court of Hawaii spell out additional requirements for Hawaii lawyers, including criteria for admission to the bar.

The rules also spell out the process for disciplining attorneys; attorneys convicted of felonies are to be restrained from practicing law pending a full disciplinary proceeding. Under the rules, Kealoha could eventually be disbarred or suffer something less than a full license revocation, such as a license suspension.

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