Former Kauai police secretary settles suit
Her termination and transfer followed an investigation of the department chief
LIHUE » The Kauai County Council agreed to pay a former Kauai Police Department secretary $325,000 for what she claimed was wrongful termination for doing her job and writing a letter to the editor, her lawyer announced yesterday.
The settlement marks the end of a five-year legal battle pitting the former Kauai police chief against his secretary in state and federal courts.
In 2002, Jacquelyn Tokashiki was the secretary for both the chief of police and the Kauai Police Commission when she was transferred from the police chief's office and then given a letter of termination.
She said in her lawsuits that the Kauai Police Commission had asked her to help in the investigation of her boss, former Police Chief George Freitas. Freitas, who retired in 2003, was suspended at the time as the commission investigated a complaint of hindering prosecution brought by a fellow officer.
The only wrongdoing found by the commission against Freitas, however, was that he yelled at a subordinate and gave his then-girlfriend a ride in his unmarked police car.
Freitas said yesterday that he did have Tokashiki transferred and did try to terminate her for searching his office without a warrant.
But, he said, she was never fired, since she went to court to block the termination.
Instead, Tokashiki moved to the mayor's office and continued to serve as the Police Commission secretary until her retirement in 2004. The chief's office got another secretary position, thus eliminating one of the causes of the controversy.
Still, Tokashiki, who held the dual secretary job from 1980 until 2002, filed suit in both federal and state courts against Freitas, saying the search, and a letter to the editor in Honolulu magazine defending her former chief, Calvin Fujita, then-Mayor Maryanne Kusaka and the Police Commission, led to her dismissal. She said the attempted termination violated her First Amendment and Whistleblowers Protection rights.
"It's been a long five years," Tokashiki said yesterday in a statement. "It was never my intention to be involved in a lawsuit. Unfortunately, the county was unwilling to resolve this, and I was left with no choice but to file these lawsuits."
After five years of legal wrangling, dismissals and appeals, the federal trial was set to begin April 24. The state trial was scheduled for September, said Tokashiki's lawyer, Clayton Ikei.
The Kauai County Council agreed to the settlement yesterday.
According to Mary Daubert, county public information officer, the matter is still pending, so neither the county attorney nor the mayor would comment.
"It is proof to me" of wrongdoing, Tokashiki said yesterday in a statement. The settlement "gives a message to government employees and employers that it is wrong to violate anyone's rights."