Friday, July 13, 2001

Clyde Arakawa, left, shown in May with attorney
Guy Matsunaga, asked the court to appoint
him new counsel yesterday.

Arakawa asks for
public defender

The judge wants more financial
details about the ex-cop who
faces a manslaughter charge

By Debra Barayuga

Circuit Judge Karen Ahn has asked for more information on the financial status of former police officer Clyde Arakawa before she decides to appoint new counsel to represent him in his upcoming criminal case.

Arakawa is expected to go to trial Sept. 17 on a charge of manslaughter for driving while intoxicated and causing the death of Dana Ambrose last October.

Yesterday, defense attorney Guy Matsunaga asked the court to appoint new counsel for Arakawa because he can no longer pay for his defense.

Matsunaga said that more than $20,000 has been spent for Arakawa's defense thus far. But that amount has been used toward hiring expert witnesses, and neither Matsunaga nor lead attorney Michael Ostendorp has yet been paid.

Deputy public defender William Jameson confirmed that a review of Arakawa's financial situation shows he would qualify for the services of the Office of Public Defender.

The state opposed the request, saying Arakawa should provide more detailed information of his financial status before the court grants him a new attorney.

Deputy Prosecutor Jean Ireton said the state objects to Arakawa using taxpayers' money to pay for his attorneys' fees because it reduces the amount of money available for defendants who genuinely cannot afford to pay for their defense.

Arakawa has indicated he has no assets, yet he was able to post a $75,000 cash-only bond, has sold two homes in Oregon valued at about $200,000 each, has a monthly pension of about $2,000 after working 20 years as a Honolulu police officer, and has the capability to fly back and forth to Oregon, Ireton said. He is also being represented in a civil case filed by the Ambrose family by three attorneys.

"I think it's in the best interests of the taxpayers he prove his financial situation," Ireton said. Matsunaga agreed to provide the documents but argued that had this not been a high-publicity case, the state would not have opposed the request so vehemently. A further hearing on Arakawa's request has been set for July 26.

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