Office of Public Defender moving Sept. 1

  • Kona Public Defender Supervisor Ann Datta. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today file photo)

The Office of the Public Defender is moving to a new location on Sept. 1.

The office will be moving 10 miles north of its current location in Kealakekua to the corner of Queen Kaahumanu Highway and Henry Street in the old Borders bookstore building. The staff will be occupying suite 209, the old Carlsmith Ball Law offices.

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“I am very pleased that this move was able to go forward given the budget cuts created by the coronavirus pandemic. It will allow our office to operate more efficiently and effectively considering the proximity to the new courthouse,” said Kona Public Defender Supervisor Ann Datta.

The Office of the Public Defender is tasked with safeguarding individual rights in all criminal and related matters, from arrest or threat of confinement through all stages of the criminal proceedings including appeal and parole board matters, if any, consistent with applicable laws, court rules, and rules of professional responsibility. They serve any indigent person who is arrested for, charged with or convicted of an offense

The Kona office processes about 250 cases per month in District Court and Circuit Court.

The new 1,400-square-foot office will accommodate the six attorneys and two clerical staff currently housed in a Kealakekua office space.

The move has been two years in the making.

Initially, the office was expected to move into a new building in the Kaloko Light Industrial Area above Costco. However, Datta said the whole process was delayed because of problems obtaining county permits. After about a year with no progress on that space, the office began looking for an alternate site.

They recently secured a five-year lease for the new location.

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“It’s going to be such a huge relief,” said Datta. “It has been so challenging going back and forth from Kealakekua to the new courthouse. It’s a perfect location.”

Email Laura Ruminski at lruminski@westhawaiitoday.com

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