Friday, July 27, 2001

Lindsey trial to
move to mainland

Her attorney has asked that the
trial be moved to Las Vegas

By Debra Barayuga

The trial of former Kamehameha Schools trustee Lokelani Lindsey and her sister on federal bankruptcy fraud and money-laundering charges will be moved from Hawaii.

U.S. District Judge Helen Gillmor granted Lindsey's request yesterday to have her case tried in another district because of the inordinate amount of negative publicity she has received in the past four years. Her attorney has asked that the trial be moved to Las Vegas.

This is the third time here in at least the past two decades that a change of venue has been granted for a federal trial.

"I believe it would be a very difficult thing to find a jury who had not formed an opinion with respect to Mrs. Lindsey," Gillmor said.

Lindsey has been placed in a position of "presumed prejudice" because of her previous connection with Kamehameha Schools, an institution that is held in high regard in this community, Gillmor said.

She believes Lindsey was treated with more scrutiny than the other trustees and was the "lightning rod for the whole trusteeship" because of the role she took in overseeing the running of the schools and allegations that she had abused that position.

"We're talking about someone connected to a very special place in people's hearts," Gillmor said in attempting to explain the intense and prolonged scrutiny Lindsey received from the media.

The government had opposed Lindsey's request, saying the adverse publicity surrounding her in her previous roles had nothing to do with the charges she currently faces.

The sisters were indicted in December on charges stemming from their private business dealings and Marlene Lindsey's bankruptcy filing.

Lindsey's attorney, William Harrison, said all she was asking for was a "fair and level playing field."

Her first name alone evokes more name recognition than anyone in this jurisdiction. "The last place in the United States she can be tried is in Honolulu."

He said this was not a high-profile case, but was about a person whom "no one likes because of the frenzy created by the media."

Co-counsel David Chesnoff lives in Las Vegas, as does Lindsey's relatives who can assist her in her limited resources, Harrison said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Leslie Osborne said the government's witnesses all live in Hawaii and asked that the trial be moved to Los Angeles or San Francisco to save on air fare.

Gillmor will make a recommendation to the 9th U.S. Circuit of Appeals, which will make the final determination as to where the trial will be held. Trial is set for Nov. 6, but that may change depending on where the 9th Circuit decides to try the case.

Harrison said he hoped Gillmor will preside over the trial since she has knowledge of the Bishop Estate controversy and can immediately rule on objections if the need arises.

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