County Of Maui Appeals Kawano’s Ruling Throwing Out Criminal Case Against MauiTime Publisher Tommy Russo


So remember a couple weeks ago when we ran this story saying District Court Judge Kelsey Kawano had thrown out the criminal case against MauiTime Publisher Tommy Russo over his photographing Maui police officers two years ago because the cops didn’t have probable cause to arrest him in the first place? Well, that turned out to be a bit premature–this morning, County of Maui Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Artemio C. Baxa appealed the decision. It’s now up to the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals to decide what to do.

Prosecuting Attorney John D. Kim–Baxa’s boss–refused to say why his office is appealing Kawano’s decision. But Sam MacRoberts, Russo’s attorney, had a lot to say.

“Judge Kawano carefully reviewed all of the evidence and correctly decided to end the prosecution of Mr. Russo,” MacRoberts told me. “His decision was thoughtful and appropriate given the video evidence and the law. Unfortunately though, the County insists on using taxpayer dollars and its limited resources on the appeal. Instead of using the case as a valuable teaching tool regarding the public’s right to film police officers, the County has chosen to continue dragging this case out.”

In the interests of disclosure, Russo’s civil lawsuit against County of Maui over his allegedly getting assaulted by then-Maui Police Office Nelson Johnson in 2011 is still pending.

Anthony Pignataro

About Anthony Pignataro

Anthony Pignataro has been a journalist since 1996. He started work as MauiTime's Editor in 2003, took a couple years off starting in 2008, then returned to the staff in 2011. He's the author of "Stealing Cars With The Pros," a 2013 collection of his journalism and the Maui novels "Small Island" (2011) and "The Dead Season" (2012)–all of which were published by Event Horizon Press. In 2014, his one-act play "War Stories" won second place in the Maui Fringe Festival.