So it looks like Maui has lost a judge to criminal activity. On Thursday, May 9, Maui Family Court judge Mimi DesJardins pleaded no contest to a single charge of tampering with a government record. The state Attorney General’s office originally charged her with 10 counts, but her plea deal brought it down to one. In fact, DesJardins went out of her way not to fight the case, resigning back on April 23, the day the AG first filed a criminal complaint against her.
Even just the one charge was a serious matter. According to The Maui News’ May 10 story on the sentencing, back in February DesJardins deliberately wrote the wrong time on probable cause documents for defendants who’d been arrested and held for longer than 48 hours, which is a crime. The defendants should have been released, but DesJardins signed and dated the documents as though she’d been given them before the 48-hour time period had lapsed.
There are two odd things about The Maui News coverage of the DesJardins matter. First, their May 10 story (and to a lesser extent, their earlier April 25 story on her resignation) are extremely sympathetic to DesJardins. For a paper that supposedly prides itself on “objective” reporting, the May 10 story gives supportive quotes from four separate attorneys (including DesJardins’ own lawyer) to just one source (the deputy AG who prosecuted the case) quoted on her guilt.
Even stranger is that neither Maui News story on DesJardins carries a byline. Though both stories are based entirely on the public record (the May 10 story largely just covers a sentencing hearing, which is open to the public), the paper chose not to identify the reporter(s) responsible for the story. Some publications (like this one) try to identify the authors of any and all stories. Others, like The Economist, give no bylines. Most publications pick one standard and they stick to it.
Bylines are useful because the let the reader know who did the work on any given story. While it’s reasonable to lift a byline in cases where a reporter’s life might be in danger from, say, a defendant just convicted of murder who swore vengeance on anyone associated with his case, nothing remotely like that happened here. And leaving off a reporter’s name because the association with that particular story might harm the reporter’s relationship with a source or sources isn’t generally considered to be a valid reason.
In any case, Maui News editor Lee Imada didn’t return an email asking for comment.
Photo: Keith Burtis/Wikimedia Commons