Maui News

Council Unanimously Affirms Mayor’s Recommendation to Remove Maui Prosecuting Attorney

December 4, 2020, 6:45 PM HST
* Updated December 4, 6:47 PM
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By Wendy Osher

The Maui County Council today voted unanimously to affirm Mayor Michael Victorino’s recommendation to remove Don Guzman from the position of prosecuting attorney for the County of Maui.

Governance Ethics and Transparency Committee Chair Mike Molina said, “The committee acknowledged the accomplishments of the prosecuting attorney while head of the department, but could not overlook a pattern of behavior involving angry outbursts and verbal threats in violation of the county’s violence in the workplace action plan.  The committee agreed that all forms of violence in the workplace are not acceptable and stressed the safety of all county employees as a priority.”

“The Council’s action closes this workplace violence investigation and recommendation for removal of Mr. Guzman,” Mayor Victorino said in a press release statement. “Moving forward, this episode demonstrates the need for everyone to re-commit to ensuring our employees have a safe and healthy work environment and that managers are well-equipped and trained to enforce the County of Maui’s Violence in the Workplace Action Plan.”

“I thank the County Council for its unanimous support of my recommendation in this matter.”

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Roman Amaguin, a Honolulu labor law attorney retained to represent Don Guzman testified on Friday saying, asking that the mayor immediately withdraw his resolution and that the council vote no on the resolution to remove Mr. Guzman as prosecuting attorney.

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“Voting no will allow this matter to be sent back to the mayor so that the parties can then enter proper mediation to resolve a single complaint,” said Amaguin.

According to Amaguin, he sent a letter to Maui Corporation Counsel on Nov. 17, 2020, detailing Guzman’s legal claims under the Unites States constitution and federal statutory law.

During earlier testimony in November,  Guzman said he felt his due process was not met as multiple witnesses offered testimony against him that was not specific to information provided in a termination letter and complaint.

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Molina said the GET committee met on Nov. 5 and 6. “The committee received written and oral testimony both in support and in opposition to the removal. The committee also received oral testimony in support of the removal specifically from five county employees, four of whom are employed in the department of the Prosecuting Attorney’s office, and one of which was identified as the complainant.”

“The committee met with the prosecuting attorney, the complainant, the mayor and an attorney from the  law firm, Marr Jones & Wang was hired by the administration to investigate the complaint.  The committee learned the investigation resulted in a report that concluded the prosecuting attorney engaged in threats of intimidation to inflict mental harm or injury, in violation of the county’s violence in the workplace action plan,” said Molina.

According to Molina, the committee also met with the director of personnel services to explain that Guzman is an appointed employee, not subject to collective bargaining agreement or civil service laws. Further, Molina noted that “at will employees” may be terminated for any or no reason, provided an individual’s protected classes are not violated.

The Mayor announced today that the County of Maui will accept applications for the position of prosecuting attorney following today’s vote by the Maui County Council to affirm his recommendation for Guzman’s removal.

The deadline for applications is Dec. 18, 2020. To submit an application for prosecuting attorney, call the Department of Management at 270-7855 or send email to [email protected]

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