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Federal drug trial for Samoan man continued to next year

The federal court in Honolulu has granted Kaisa Tai’s motion to continue his trial to next year, so afford the defense more time to review the many documents in this case.

Kaisa Tai with his younger brother Louis Tai were arrested in Pavaiai last summer and taken to Honolulu where they and other co-defendants including their older brother John Tai were charged in a major drug case spanning from Hawai’i to California.

Louis and John Tai both reached plea agreements with prosecutors and were scheduled to be sentenced later this year. Kaisa Tai withdrew a guilty plea more than two months ago and his trial along with other codefendants, who have maintained their innocence in this case, was set for Oct. 2 this year.

However, on Aug. 14, the defendant’s newly appointed attorney, Cliff Hunt asked the court for a continuance, saying that he has received 106 compact discs containing the discovery for this case from the previous defense attorney and the federal government.

He said the compact discs contain thousands of pages of reports, transcripts and other written documents, audio and video recordings of telephone conversations and undercover investigations, cellular telephone text messages and records, and photographs of witnesses and investigations, and other evidence.

And as of last week, he has only been able to review a fraction of the discovery in this case. He said his client is facing a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years imprisonment.

The defense needs additional time to review the discovery, draft and file pretrial motions, and prepare for trial said Hunt and he currently has trials in other matters pending in federal court which won’t be completed until later this year or early January 2013.

During a hearing on the motion held Thursday this week, the court granted the defense motion and set jury trial for May 14, 2013, before US District Court Judge David Alan Ezra, with final pretrial conference hearing on May 15 next year.

With Kaisa Tai’s motion grant, this also means the trial for all co-defendants who have maintained their not guilty plea is also set for May next year, according to court documents.