Wednesday, July 18, 2001

Lokelani Lindsey was shielded from the cameras by
family and friends as she left the Federal Courthouse
after pleading not guilty in January.

Lindsey asks judge
to move trial

The defense says that negative
publicity has tainted possible jurors

By Debra Barayuga

Former Kamehameha Schools trustee Lokelani Lindsey, who faces federal charges of bankruptcy fraud and money laundering, says continuous negative publicity against her in the past four years prevents her from receiving a fair trial. Lindsey will be arguing for a change of venue at a hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Helen Gillmor on July 26.

Lindsey and her sister, Marlene Lindsey, were set to go to trial at the end of the month, but the trial is expected to be continued to sometime in November.

The public has developed a "deep-seated bias" against Lokelani Lindsey because of the four years of almost continuous negative publicity, primarily by the two Honolulu daily newspapers, the defense argues. Television news coverage also has been extensive.

"It will be impossible to seat a jury in this case in this district which has not already heard of Lindsey and decided that she is untrustworthy and not credible," the defense said in its motion filed earlier this month.

To support her motion, Lindsey is expected to submit two file boxes containing 3,500 pages of articles published in the past four years to the court. The articles and cartoon editorials that go as far back as May 1997 range from criticism of her management style as Bishop Estate trustee to removal hearings and IRS woes over back taxes she owed.

Lindsey was one of five trustees ousted in December 1999 amid heavy public criticism and state and federal investigations of the financial dealings of the $6 billion estate.

The government does not dispute that the media was "totally fixated" on the controversy surrounding Bishop Estate and its five trustees. But it opposes Lindsey's request, saying if there was any adverse publicity, it had nothing to do with the criminal charges she currently faces.

Also, there has been no polling of prospective jurors that shows they were affected by the adverse publicity concerning Lindsey's services as Bishop Estate trustee, so the motion is premature, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Leslie Osborne.

The defense has the burden of showing that it is improbable that the court will be able to seat a fair and unbiased jury, Osborne said. The way it can show this, he contends, is by questioning jurors during jury selection.

The two sisters were indicted Dec. 27 on charges stemming from their private business dealings and the bankruptcy filing of Marlene Lindsey.

The indictment of the Lindsey sisters has not garnered the kind of attention from the general media other than its usual coverage of fraud cases, the government said. Of the newspaper articles the defense mentions, less than five refer to the current indictment.

Defense attorney William Harrison said he hopes the trial can be moved somewhere in the West, possibly San Francisco or Las Vegas, which would be more convenient for witnesses.

If the change of venue is granted, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals would decide whether to send the judge presiding over the case here to another district to try the case or assign it to another judge within the 9th Circuit.

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