Candidate Kollar says he has drive to make a difference

LIHU‘E — After running unopposed in her first election in 2008, Kaua‘i County Prosecuting Attorney Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho will have at least one opponent in the 2012 race.

Carvalho will face Deputy County Attorney Justin Kollar. Although it’s not exactly a David and Goliath match-up, Iseri Carvalho did compare her 20-plus years experience to just under a decade for Kollar as a seasoned veteran versus a rookie.

“I feel that I can make a positive difference in the criminal justice system,” Kollar said. “I’ve got the energy, the drive and now is the time.”

Kollar is the deputy county attorney who has worked primarily with the Kaua‘i Police Department since 2009. He was a county deputy prosecuting attorney on Kaua‘i in 2008, coming from O‘ahu where he had clerked for the State Court of Appeals since 2006.

Kollar said working with law enforcement personnel, the judiciary and court staff has taught him that the prosecuting attorney is in a position to bring the pieces of a very effective criminal justice system together.

As a deputy prosecutor, Kollar said he had a supervisory role in juvenile and family court.

In addition, he carried a caseload specializing in drug and vehicular homicide cases.

“I enjoyed having the opportunity to provide mentoring and training to the newer attorneys,” Kollar said. “I really enjoyed doing that.”

The goal is to reduce continuances and keep attorneys, witnesses and defendants from having to keep coming back again, he said. A strong office is centered on a core group of seasoned, career deputies with institutional knowledge and the skills to handle any situation.

“Passion is great, and zeal is admirable, but that always has to be tempered with humility, and attorneys fall short on that all the time,” he said. “The attorneys who learn how to be humble and respectful in the courtroom are the most successful attorneys.”

When people aren’t working together it leads to confusion and disorder in the court system, he said. It takes trust and mutual respect where everyone is on the same page to get results.

“We have a very small legal community here on Kaua‘i, and so professional and friendly relationships are essential,” Kollar said. “That doesn’t just go for attorneys, but the judges, police, clerks, and everybody — they need to be able to work together here.”

Kollar said his priorities are to tackle crystal methamphetamine and illegal use of prescription drugs. Many crimes are related to addicts who are trying to feed their addition, he said.

Kollar said that marijuana use is now under the jurisdiction of law enforcement and the health care systems, which can create confusion. He said the legislature changes qualifications for medical marijuana cards, and also with protecting a patient’s rights to access once they qualify.

His concern is to not make criminals out of patients, and not to issue cards without adequate consultation. He fears the idea of Mainland companies setting up shop to make money selling marijuana to people on Kaua‘i.

“Law enforcement has a tremendous impact on what the legislature does, and the police and prosecutors have a very loud voice,” he said. “I want to see a society where kids don’t want to smoke pot, and have more active and healthy things to do.”

Agricultural crimes on the Westside and the North Shore are victimizing farmers who operate on small profit margins, he said. The crimes against the tourism industry also remain an issue.

Another priority is to address unsolved homicides on the island. From Sandra Galas, to Amber Jackson and others since the early 1990s, Kollar said the department is challenged to spend resources on cold cases.

“That is something very important to the community,” he said.

Sexual and domestic violence exists in every corner of society and cannot be accepted on Kaua‘i, Kollar said, but added that it is difficult to prosecute what goes on in the homes. But the prosecutor must let people know that these are serious crimes and affect families for generations, he said.

The Kanaka Maoli issues present a variety of cultural issues that permeate the legal and political system. Kollar addresses it from a civil rights and community safety perspective.

“First, I believe that every human being is born with the right to self-determination, be it political, social or religious,” Kollar said. “I believe very strongly in that.”

At the same time, Kollar said there are good reasons that the state requires motorists to have drivers’ licenses and motor vehicle insurance. He said people get hurt and lives are destroyed from car crashes, and it is reasonable to expect compliance.

“I don’t like to see people put in the courtroom to defend strongly held political beliefs or their cultural practices,” he said.

Hawai’i has a unique and special culture, and its legal system cannot be run the same way as it would in New York or Los Angeles, Kollar said. It needs to run on a community level here, with humble attorneys who work to apply the law equally and not trying change the way people live.

“The mission is only complicated if you make it complicated,” he said. “Stick with the values that work, the values that are universal, that make this place so special.”

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