Honolulu prosecutors submitted a motion Tuesday to dismiss charges against U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams after he was cited for being in a closed park during Hawaii’s summertime spike in coronavirus cases.
Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Steve Alm said in a statement that a motion was submitted to the court to dismiss charges against Adams and his aide, Dennis Anderson-Villaluz, for allegedly violating an emergency COVID-19 order in August.
A judge will review the motion and make a determination on whether the charges should be dropped. Adams was in Hawaii to help with surge testing amid an alarming surge in cases.
“After a careful review of the facts and law in this case, I have determined that further prosecution of this matter would not achieve that goal,” said Alm in the statement. “This office’s resources are better spent prosecuting other offences, including serious violations of the Mayor’s emergency orders that pose a real threat to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Adams was allegedly discovered by an officer in Oahu’s Kualoa Regional Park taking photos at a time that all beach parks were closed to prevent large gatherings and curb the spread of coronavirus.
According to the citation, Adams told the officer he was visiting Hawaii to work with the governor on COVID-19 and didn’t know parks were closed.
Adams was granted a government exemption from requirements that travellers to Hawaii quarantine for 14 days because he was helping the state, his attorney, Michael Green, said.
Green spoke to Adams after the motion to dismiss was submitted Tuesday. “He was thrilled,” Green said.
Green had filed a motion to dismiss the charges earlier this month. He said he had heard from many people who were concerned about the charges.
“I never had more contact from the mainland and people here, I mean, people in high places, that were so embarrassed and so angry at what they did,” Green added. “The mayor issued so many different rules, he didn’t know what was in effect that day.”
Green said “the judge will agree to dismissal and our motions become moot so they don’t have to be argued.”
Honolulu prosecutors had originally said they would treat the case like any other. “No one is given special treatment under the law regardless of who they are,” said a statement from the prosecuting attorney’s office last year.
Violating any of the mayor’s emergency orders is punishable as a misdemeanour. If found guilty, people face fines of up to $5,000, up to a year in jail, or both.
Caleb Jones, The Associated Press