Judge sets her free

Monday, 29 December 2008

A Hawaiian judge is letting a brutal child abuser stay out of jail while she appeals on the grounds that state laws don't apply to her because she is native Hawaiian.

The Honolulu Star Bulletin reports that Circuit Judge Virginia Crandall has granted the request of Rita Makekau, 52, to remain free while she appeals her conviction for brutalizing five children. "Makekau allegedly shoved a broomstick down their throats, held them underwater in the bathtub, pushed them down the stairs and held their hands over a hot stove," reports the paper. Makekau did not deny the assaults, but claimed Biblical justification for not 'sparing the rod.'


Prosecutor Peter Carlisle criticized Judge Crandall. "The case law is incredibly explicit that the only time on an appeal that somebody should be released on bail is [when] there is a meritorious claim...." Makekau's claim that Hawaiian law doesn't apply to her is not even close, says Carlisle.

The Star Bulletin didn't mince words in an editorial on the case. "Giving credence to the wildest claim for Hawaiian separatism, a state judge has turned state law on its head by allowing a convicted child abuser to remain free on bail while awaiting an appellate court's ruling that she is not exempt from the law," says the paper.  "Circuit Judge Virginia Crandall should be reprimanded for her outrageous misconduct in deciding that such an appeal has an ounce of legal merit, and her ruling should be quickly overturned."


Follow-up:

Judge stumbled on child-abuse ruling

An outwardly indignant state judge finally succumbed to the law in ordering a woman convicted of child abuse to wait behind bars during an appeal based on her assertion that she is untouchable by Hawaii law. The appeal lacks an ounce of merit, as the judge should have recognized from the outset before mistakenly allowing the defendant to be free during the appeal.

The error might have escaped public notice if the crime had not been so heinous. Rita Makekau was accused of mistreating her sister's five sons and daughter, now ages 10 to 18, in her custody. She did not deny accusations that she hit their heads with knifes and cans of dog food, their fingers with metal and wooden spoons and their mouths with a hammer.

Instead, Makekau, who calls herself royal minister of foreign affairs for the separatist "Hawaiian Kingdom Government," claims to be immune from state and U.S. laws. Like other state laws, Hawaii's law allows defendants to remain free while awaiting the process of a meritorious appeal. By allowing Makekau to remain free last month, Circuit Judge Virginia Crandall essentially found that her claim of immunity had merit. The judge claims the deputy prosecutor assigned to the case did not object during plea negotiations to granting bail to Makekau, who pleaded no contest. Crandall said the deputy left the issue of bail up to the judge, which would have been either complacent or overconfident.

City Prosecutor Peter Carlisle was outraged by the judge's misstep, and Crandall accused him of having been "very disrespectful of this court and the judicial process." Responded Carlisle: "The key here is a wrong has been righted, and this lady is in jail where she belongs."

Star Bulletin, January 23, 2009


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