Wednesday, January 20, 2010

WHIPLASH

WHIPLASH: The use of tasers by police and what constitutes “excessive force” has caught our attention lately as it’s been impossible to find out what KPD’s policy was and/or is in light of a recent federal 9th Circuit Court ruling in Bryan v. McPherson which limited their use.

That’s why a Maui news headline- reprinted in the Honolulu Advertiser in place of their own neighbor island coverage- that said Maui officer's use of Taser on woman not excessive, court rules.

Seems the use is on a case by case basis with limits on both ends being established on the fly.

But it was the very last paragraph of the story that really caught our attention saying:

Former Deputy Corporation Counsel Laureen Martin argued the case. Deputies Corporation Counsel Richard B. Rost and Cheryl Tipton also represented the officers and county.

Now there’s something- in fact a couple of things- that we’d fall over backward in our chair if we read on Kaua`i.

The first is that they actually went, not just to trial but, to an appeal to the 9th Circuit “in house”- using county employees rather than hiring outside attorney’s at whopping prices as our “county attorney’s” office routinely (make that always) does.

The second is of course the “corporation counsel” system employed in every other county in the state.

It comes on the same days an another entry from seemingly blind and deaf Judge Al Laureta asking what specifically is wrong with our charter despite our treatises on the subject.

Although he asks in the context of the county manager proposal, a reorganization of the broken county attorney (CA) section of the charter is a good place to start.

One of the main problems is the inherent conflict embedded in our charter that empowers the CA to provide all legal advice to both the council and administration yet places the CA’s office within the administration giving the council little or no say- other than confirmation- in the department.

Reform of the CA’s office- whether electing the CA under the current set up or restructuring under a "corp counsel" system- seems a no brainer yet it has never been on the radar screen for the charter review commission (CRC).

The current system has been costing us millions every year to hire Honolulu law firms. It’s about time to see if the CRC can walk and chew gum at the same time and if not, instead of pouring their time into re-asking for the umpteenth time about four year council terms and fighting against putting effort into putting together an appropriate county manager proposal they might concentrate on fixing the most broken of all county departments.

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Yesterday we inadvertently left out a link under “problems with the county’s sustainability plan” to Jan TenBruggencate’s piece on the subject, New county energy sustainability plan draft released which identifies many of the troublesome aspects much better than we could including the use of the word ridiculous and annoying word “disincentivize.”

1 comment:

smithrichj said...

I was looking out for some news paper articles for my project and found your article here. I think this is very interesting article and you have raised a serious issue.
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