Lincoln Ashida is eager to pick up where he left off at the Hawaii County Prosecutor’s Office.
He had resigned in 2000 after 13 years as a deputy prosecutor to become Corporation Counsel, the county’s top civil attorney, for former Mayor Harry Kim. He has stayed on the job through Mayor Billy Kenoi’s first term.
Now that he’s seeking the county’s top prosecutorial post, Ashida, 50, said his philosophy will be to “aggressively prosecute cases with justice and integrity.” In small communities such as those on the Big Island, prosecuting a case is not to be taken lightly, he said, since it affects not only the accused and the accused’s family members, but also victims and witnesses.
Ashida cited his experience in the office prosecuting more than 200 major felony and high-profile cases. He said he successfully prosecuted murder cases, the majority of child- and adult-victim sexual assault cases, and he supervised other deputy prosecutors.
The Prosecutor’s Office, said Ashida, needs to get back to basics. With 80 percent of crimes being committed by 20 percent of offenders, it’s important to deal with those offenders expediently and efficiently, he said.
Ashida praised the current prosecutorial staff and said he wants to make sure they have the tools to do their jobs. He said he couldn’t second-guess Acting Prosecutor Charlene Iboshi, but he would emphasize communication with the public if he’s elected. He also will emphasize training to build an aggressive team of prosecutors who can handle themselves in court.
“Our attorneys need to develop the skills, and they need to keep those skills sharp. We can’t afford to learn on the job while doing a case; it is the victim’s life and well-being we are talking about,” Ashida said. “In any office, there’s always room for improvement in anything we do. I can’t speak for Charlene. I’m not there; I don’t have the intimate details.”
“But I do have a definite philosophy on sharing of information,” he added. “When I was a prosecutor, I’ve always felt it was important not only to let the public know what decisions were made, but why those decisions were made.”
Tops on Ashida’s list of cold cases needing revisiting is the Peter Boy Kema case — the 6-year-old disappeared in 1997 after his father claimed to have taken him to Oahu and left him with an auntie. But Ashida said he can’t necessarily call it a “cold case,” because he doesn’t know if the Prosecutor’s Office is currently working it. The case was next on his list after successfully prosecuting as co-counsel another high-profile case, the Dana Ireland murder case, he said.
“Whether it’s a cold case or not, if elected, one of the things I look forward to is revisiting that case,” Ashida said.