Jerome Adams and an aide were standing in Kualoa Park on on August 23rd during their Covid-fighting visit here. Standing, not sitting. Snapping a photo of Chinaman’s Hat.

Along came a Honolulu policeman. Oh, boy, caught one in a park while the emergency order is in effect banning people from the parks!

So, yes, the cop writes a citation. One that carries a maximum conviction penalty of a $5,000 fine, or up to a year in jail, or both. Yes, sir, that must have given the cop a thrill and a story to tell. Nailed the Surgeon General of the United States, the highest health official in the land. Nobody escapes The Law. Adams gets arraigned next month, probably with lawyer Michael Green standing in for him in the local courtroom.

I don’t believe in letting VIPs off where serious violation of law, or even speeding tickets, are involved. But come on now. How much do you want to be a laughing stock for nailing a good works, short-term visitor who likely didn’t have an inkling you couldn’t set so much as one foot in a park at that period in the emergency law?

Couldn’t the cop have said “sorry, but the park’s off limits during the emergency. But you can stand here alongside the highway and get some great photos”?

Two opposing points of law will be in play if this case is allowed to go to trial (and Green indicates his client would ask for a jury trial): One is the old saw that ignorance is no excuse at law. The other is that one must have the intent to violate a law in order to be guilty. I can’t see Adams having that intent, but I can see him having that ignorance of the local law.

But what a waste of our precious court time, and even the seating of a jury that’s likely to laugh it off.

True, Adams had sent an email to state officials requesting an exemption for Hawaii’s quarantine for travelers. The email back confirming an exemption included the mayor’s rule about closed parks. But I’m betting all that was handled by aides and likely never seen by Adams.

I hope the prosecutor decides on nolle prosequi on this one. We get enough laugh lines in the national press without being noted for criminalizing the Surgeon General for taking a photo in a park.


Published by Bob Jones

Journalist since age 19. St. Petersburg Times, Noticias y Viajes in Madrid, Overseas Weekly in Frankfurt and Paris, the Louisville Courier- Journal, the Honolulu Advertiser, KGMB-TV, NBC News foreign correspondent in Africa and Southeast Asia, and MidWeek columnist. LL.B LaSalle University Law. 3 years in the U.S. Air Force. Covered: Biafran War in Nigeria (1968) Vietnam War (1969-73), Iraq in 1991. George Foster Peabody Award for distinguished journalism for reporting in China. 2 Emmys for documentaries. Married to journalist Denby Fawcett; one daughter. Brett Jones, foreign service officer, State Department.

6 replies on “How Ludicrous Can We Be?”

  1. How about applause for the policeman doing his job? There shouldn’t be exceptions. Were there signs posted?

  2. If only he had been wearing a thong bikini, Caldwell would have given him a free mask and a big dopey smile.

  3. Sitting in high position or Kama aina doesn’t excuse anyone from not being fined, they should be, he’s the Surgeon General. Of course he’ll get off, but as you said, such a waste of time and money. Isn’t there any attorneys that are smarter than Green to fight for what’s right rather than, ”oh, greens the attorney, better leave it be”. LOSE MONEY again. Accolades to the Maka`I, job well done. Where’s your picture in the news media; that’ve been nice huh?

  4. I agree that (1) citation for being in a park during emergency order is a waste of courts time, (2) citation given to Jerome Adam’s may result in bad publicity for Hawaii and (3) no exceptions should be made when giving out these citations. I’ve brought this up before that you said in a previous column, ‘Speak up! I absolutely agree so I just finished sending an email to Mayor Caldwell about your column on this subject. I asked him to please change the punishment for being in a park during emergency order to verbal warning from police to lessen time police officers have to spend on these citations and to avoid avoid wasting court time.

  5. I’ve sat through a trial in a jury box, and that’s not somewhere I’d want to be during a pandemic.

  6. This is more serious than it appears to be. While ludicrous on its face, it actually shows the Police Chief has some problems with the conduct of our Police Officers and her Command staff. This was a situation where the P.O. should have radioed for a Supervisor (Sgt. or above) and the supervisors should have made a more cogent decision. It reveals that HPD training needs work. Let me say, I fully support HPD. They generally do a fine job under some very tough conditions. But there are some members of the force who occasionally forget they are here to Protect AND Serve…with less “attitude” and more
    aloha. The cop who wrote the ticket pushed his authority in a silly way. But with a badge and gun, as we have seen elsewhere, that attitude can bring on plenty trouble.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: