Resignation of KATHERINE KEALOHA
News Release from Office of Disciplinary Counsel, March 17, 2020
HONOLULU, HAWAIʻI – On March 13, 2020, the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court granted the request of attorney Katherine Puana Kealoha to resign from the practice of law in lieu of discipline.
At the time Ms. Kealoha offered to resign, she was facing serious disciplinary charges arising from multiple federal convictions for felony crimes for which she is awaiting sentencing, and earlier, as a result of those convictions, was restrained from the practice of law in Hawaii.
In Hawaiʻi, a resignation in lieu of discipline requires an acknowledgement that the material facts of the disciplinary proceeding are true, and that if the proceeding were prosecuted, the attorney would not be able to successfully defend the case. Further, the Rules of the Supreme Court of Hawaiʻi provides that a “[r]esignation in lieu of discipline is a disbarment for all purposes under these rules, including reinstatement.” RSCH Rule 2.14(d).
Ms. Kealoha’s resignation shall become effective on March 27, 2020, and given her prior July 3, 2019 order of restraint from the practice of law, she is unlikely to be presently engaged in any pending matters. However, under the new resignation order, as is consistent with the prior restraint order, she shall not accept any new retainer or engage as attorney for another in any new case or legal matter of any nature. However, before March 27, 2020 she may wind up all matters that were pending on March 13, 2020. During this time, she is required to promptly notify all of her clients, and any attorneys for any party, or self-represented parties, in any pending litigation or proceedings, of her inability to act as an attorney. Further, by March 27, 2020, Ms. Kealoha shall surrender to all clients all papers and property to which they are entitled and return any advance payments of fees that have not been earned.
Ms. Kealoha, age 49, was admitted to the Hawaiʻi bar in 1996, and is a graduate of the William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawaiʻi.
Case reference: ODC v. Katherine Puana Kealoha, SCPR-20-0000117.