Attorney general's role in dam case protested


POSTED: Wednesday, April 22, 2009

LIHUE » The state attorney general's office cannot represent the state in both the civil and criminal cases against Ka Loko Dam owner James Pflueger, his attorney, William McCorriston, argued yesterday in Circuit Court.

Pflueger's lawyers have contended that the attorney general's office — and Attorney General Mark Bennett specifically — have conflicts of interest and should be removed from prosecuting Pflueger.

Pflueger has been indicted on seven counts of manslaughter and one of reckless endangerment for allegedly filling in the emergency spillway at Ka Loko Dam prior to its breach in 2006. Seven people died downstream from the ensuing flood.

McCorriston provided evidence yesterday that the criminal team, of which Bennett is the head, received depositions from 40 witnesses in the civil case from the attorney general's civil team.

Bennett did not dispute that he received the depositions from his deputies, but said he could have gotten the depositions either through subpoenas or any of the other dozens of lawyers working on the case.

Besides, he added, Pflueger's attorneys, McCorriston and David Minkin, represented Pflueger in both the civil and criminal cases and were able to use the same depositions in both cases.

The hearing on the motion was continued until May 12.

Pflueger, 83, attended court for the first time yesterday since his indictment last year.