Prosecutor son’s job prompts turning over telescope arrests

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To avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, the Hawaii attorney general’s office will take over prosecution of protesters arrested for blocking construction of a giant telescope …

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To avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, the Hawaii attorney general’s office will take over prosecution of protesters arrested for blocking construction of a giant telescope.

Big Island prosecutor Mitch Roth said Wednesday he turned over the cases in response to an Associated Press story highlighting concerns that his son’s employment with a telescope partner is a possible conflict.

His son works at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Those who work at that research facility are employed by the California Institute of Technology, a Thirty Meter Telescope partner.

Roth says he doesn’t believe it’s a conflict, but he asked for opinions from the state Office of Disciplinary Counsel and the county’s ethics board.

Attorney General spokesman Krishna Jayaram says it’s unfortunate “mere allegations of a conflict became newsworthy.”

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