Riding a swell of support from factions backing the lowest law enforcement priority of cannabis, but insisting that he’s not a one-issue candidate, Ocean View resident Paul Dolan brings a defense attorney’s perspective to the race for Hawaii County prosecutor.
Dolan, 62, has experience as a deputy public defender for Los Angeles County but has devoted most of his career to being a criminal defense attorney on Hawaii Island and Maui.
In a three-way primary battle against Deputy Prosecutor Mitch Roth and Corporation Counsel and former prosecutor Lincoln Ashida, Dolan promises a fresh face and a new culture of openness in the Prosecutor’s Office. He calls himself the “Ron Paul of the Pacific.”
“The Prosecutor’s Office belongs to the public,” Dolan said. “People have been stepped over for years, and I aim to put a stop to it.”
Dolan said one of the first things he would do as prosecutor is tear down the walls in the office, to make the attorneys, himself included, more accessible to the public. The current Prosecutor’s Office is too secretive, he said, not even letting victims of crime know what’s going on with their cases.
Dolan’s prosecutorial strategy is simple — justice, fairness and the unity of the people inside the system.
“The prosecutor is the minister of justice,” Dolan said. “It’s not about the number of cases, the number of wins and losses, the size of the fines. It’s about what is right, what is pono.”
Dolan cites his work in a civil lawsuit against private landowners who denied public beach access rights to the community within the Kahuku ahupuaa in Ocean View as an example of an issue that’s important to the island. He said he would continue the fight as a prosecutor for public beach access and against landowners who block beach access to the public.
As far as cold cases needing revisiting, Dolan cites all of the marijuana possession criminal cases and seizure of property cases the office has conducted after county voters in 2008 passed a ballot initiative making marijuana the lowest priority for law enforcement.
“We will reopen, revisit and give back to the people — with a huge apology — every single seizure that Mitch Roth did,” he said. “This was a huge waste of money. These marijuana cases cost millions of dollars.”
Dolan also pledges to reopen the island’s rural courthouses, which were shut down after the court system ran out of money for security. It’s not right, he said, to make crime victims travel from Ka’u to Hilo or Kona every time their case is heard.
“We’re going to have those courthouses opened if I have to provide the security myself,” he said.