De Costa won’t seek reelection

Three years after running unopposed to replace former Prosecuting Attorney Michael Soong, Craig De Costa yesterday announced plans against running for reelection.

De Costa, who has served in that office for nearly 12 years, eight of which he was a deputy prosecutor, said he’s ready to spend more time with his family.

Preceding his December 1, 2008 exit will also be the departure of First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jennifer Winn, who will be heading to the County Attorney’s Office next month.

No other deputies besides first deputy Winn have given notice, he said.

Though sometimes it’s the practice for a newly-elected official to come in with an entourage of employees, De Costa said, “I don’t think anyone in their right mind would take over and clean house.”

“My opinion is it’s so hard to find people willing to work as hard as we work and live on Kaua‘i.”

The county has seen its share of turnaround in professions relating to charging and trying criminals in recent years, including the departure of former deputy prosecutors Lawrence Strauss earlier this year and Ken Norelli in 2006, as well as the arrival of newly-hired Chief of Police Darryl Perry and recently-promoted Deputy Chief Mark Begley in September and November, respectively.

The Kauai Police Department and the Prosecutor’s Office have to work together to bring cases through the judicial process, a task that was put in the spotlight this summer. In July, De Costa took some heat from County Council members wanting to see more done between Kaua‘i police and De Costa’s department regarding charging crimes and outstanding warrants. In July there were roughly 700 warrants outstanding; however, that number was reduced to 49 in September. “I think the real credit rests with KPD with that,” De Costa said.

As for De Costa’s future after finishing out his term, he said he isn’t sure, but did say he is considering going into private practice with some fellow University of Hawaii Law School colleagues. But if that comes into fruition, he would want to be able to “pick and choose” his clients, he said.

“When you’ve had 12 years of everything from traffic tickets to murders,” he said, “let’s just say I already told one judge I might take an appeal here and there, but looking at my family situation I wouldn’t want to be tied down doing a lot of jury trial work.”

Included in the challenges the new head of the office will have are some that aren’t likely to disappear, including recruiting and retaining attorneys willing to work the long workdays and work weeks the job of being a deputy demands on an island with such an abundant playground.

The Prosecutor’s Office has 11 attorney positions, 10 of which require 50- to 60-hour workweeks, he said. The other part-time position requires 20 hours.

De Costa said he made the announcement officially so that whoever is interested in running for the position will have enough time to prepare. The filing deadline is in July.

Looking back, De Costa said, “I ran a clean office.”

“I didn’t go after people because of who they are nor letting others escape the consequences of their actions because of who they are. Our charging decisions have been based on the evidence; on the results of investigations,” he said.

I’ve enjoyed serving the community I grew up in, the actual handling of cases and consulting with police about investigations has always been fulfilling for me.”

• Amanda C. Gregg, assistant editor/staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or


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