Ethics: Bynum can question Iseri-Carvalho

LIHU‘E — A request from the county prosecutor to the Kaua‘i County Council to expend funds to hire a law office assistant will have to wait another week, after tempers flared at the council chambers in Lihu‘e Wednesday afternoon.

County Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho told the council there was a need for a law office assistant to help the prosecution in an upcoming high-profile murder trial.

Just prior to the vote, councilman Tim Bynum asked to pose questions to Iseri-Carvalho, but was stopped short.

“I will not entertain any questions from Mr. Bynum,” said Iseri-Carvalho, adding that Bynum is being prosecuted criminally for a zoning violation, and it would be unethical to communicate with him.

Bynum, however, had a Feb. 10 Board of Ethics opinion — and copies of it — ready to distribute it to his colleagues and Iseri-Carvalho.

“I would like to be able to ask some questions,” said Bynum, adding that he had concerns with Iseri-Carvalho’s request and the county’s former victim witness program, which was absorbed years ago into a vertical prosecution approach by the Office of Prosecuting Attorney.

When Iseri-Carvalho spoke again, she said was not permitted to speak with Bynum, as it would be a violation of attorneys’ Rules of Professional Conduct. Bynum, however, said he had no intention to discuss with Iseri-Carvalho his pending criminal case.

Bynum is charged with four misdemeanor counts of alleged zoning violations in the additional dwelling unit at his Wailua property. He said someone trespassed onto his property to do an inspection, which he had never allowed and was neither notified of it. The misdemeanor charges, he said, are related to having a rice cooker in the unit, using the rice cooker, having a refrigerator and having a sink.

Scanning the Council Chambers, Council Chair Jay Furfaro asked, “Who is the county attorney at this moment.”

“I will be,” said Deputy County Attorney Mona Clark, who stepped up to the podium and read the Board of Ethics opinion: There is no conflict and Bynum can participate in council discussions involving the county prosecutor.

Deputy County Attorney Amy Esaki read the attorneys’ Rules of Professional Conduct, and said the discussion was not about Bynum’s criminal case, it was about the hiring of a law office assistant, therefore Bynum was allowed to participate.

Furfaro called for a recess, and Bynum stepped out of the chambers to call his attorney.

With Bynum inside the building but not back at the table, Furfaro brought the item back to discussion and asked for a motion to defer it. As Bynum returned to the room, he was not able make additional comments: A motion to defer does not allow for discussion.

The deferral passed with five votes in favor. Bynum and councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura voted against the deferral.

The item is now supposed to be back on the table at the council’s March 21 meeting at 8 a.m. — Iseri-Carvalho asked for an early morning meeting so as not to conflict with court.

Visit www.kauai.gov for more information.

• Léo Azambuja, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or lazambuja@thegardenisland.com.

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