Tag Archives: juvenile

Juvenile Cases in Honolulu

Juvenile Cases in Honolulu

Your office phone rings just as you were about to begin a project. It’s the principal from your child’s school saying that your son or daughter has been arrested. Then they go forward and explain one of three things:

1. A scenario describing your son as the most horrible black-hearted monster that you’ve never met and cannot imagine.

2. A school day prank that would’ve rated no more than an afternoon in the principal’s office during the days we went to school.

3. The scariest of all: nothing. Just come down. The juvenile police have some questions they want to ask you.

The problem with the juvenile system is that the case can follow your child, even past when they become an adult. It is important, from the earliest stages, to have someone who can explain the system to you, to minimize the trauma that is guaranteed to occur.

Recent Juvenile Arrests

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True Hustler For Real — Choices

True Hustler For Real -- Choices

It’s hard to write a response blog to a statement no one can ever hear, but I got to work in my favorite rap video of all time before the end, so at least part of this worked!

You know that I’m a hustler for real so you know I got the stolen bus pass.

I met for the first time a true hustler today.  He needed transportation, all he had was a set and nothing to lose.  He took an edged weapon and held it up to the little white boy.

“Choices” she said.  That was the theme of the lady’s speech to the young Defendant I was defending.  ”You have all the choices in the world, and you chose to hold a knife to my son and threaten him.

Choices, she repeated thirty times.

Her son, for example, had chosen to play Lacrosse.

My defendant, a child of 15, hadn’t “chosen” to play Lacrosse? In fact he hadn’t even heard of Lacrosse. His father chuckled to me after everything, “How do you play Lacrosse, anyway?” Choices.

When he was younger he had a choice, either get beat up every single day, or join the gang, Halawa Mob.

When he was 12 he had the option, get beat up every single day, or smoke ice for the first time. How’s that choice?


Prison? School?

One is my school. One could have been.

Aaron Sorkin famously said “You know how I got hooked on cocaine? I tried it”. Choices.  He has a choice every single time

Choices, this mom had a choice, she could’ve voted for representatives that took better care of the local school system; Of after-school programs.

Choices, she could have invested in teaching young children the importance of teamwork, rather than gang work.

Choices, the State of Hawaii could have chosen a race to the top, rather than discarding a race to the bottom.

If you offered me ice at 13, I would’ve smoked it for sure. Luckily they only offered me Comics.

I try not to think: “Lady, you just don’t get it.  YOUR son has choices in his life, he can choose what video game to play, or if he takes honors English or AP English. He can choose which sport to letter in. The defendant doesn’t have choices, choices have him.”

Of course the American dream is amazingly fair. Anybody can succeed, and exceed. But to do so you have to escape the trap. And if you can’t escape, you get neither the opportunity, nor the options to make choices. And we all start different distances from the escape.

The choices some kids have to make start with “how will I not get killed today.” If everybody you know, everybody from your neighborhood is dead or in jail by 21, what’s the point of planning for a career? If all your role models disappear by 23, you don’t make plans for 24.

Where I grew up, not going to college was unthinkable.  It would be like not going to Junior High. Of course everyone goes to college. Where my client grew up, not going to prison is unthinkable.  Everyone goes.

Life on the installment plan, that’s what the prosecutors call it.

Choices lady.

Fat Cats Bigga Fish, by The Coup

When my family was thrown out of our home when I was ten years old, that wasn’t a choice I made. That choice made me.

When I was told I would take a bus every day one and a half hours each way to Junior high, that wasn’t a choice I made. That choice made me.

And when I was in first grade, and they told be I couldn’t be with my friends, that I had to join a class in a special part of the school, with special kids who had special gifts, that wasn’t a choice I made. That choice made me.

Those choices made me, made me who I am today.

Choices are a good song to sing a child. Tell these kids they have control over their own destiny, they can do anything. Until the check comes.

Until our kid walks by someone. Someone who’s had nothing but choices made for them their whole life. Choices that make them into somebody that you don’t want to walk by.

I’m wishing that I had an automobile
As I feel the cold wind rush past
But let me state that I’m a hustler for real
So you know I got the stolen bus pass.

Mr Coke said to Mr Mayor: “you know, we got a process like Ice T’s hair
We put up the funds for your election campaign
And, oh, um, waiter can you bring the champagne?
Our real estate firm says opportunity’s arousing
To make some condos out of low-income housing
Immediately, we need some media heat
To say that gangs run the street and then we bring in the police fleet!
Harass and beat everybody til they look inebriated
When we buy the land, motherfuckas will appreciate it
Don’t worry about the Urban League or Jesse Jackson
My man that owns Marlboro donated a fat sum” 


Published in the paper this week!

Published in the paper this week!

We did it! As a follow up to last weeks decision to write a letter to the Star-Advertiser, one of their editors over there called me up and said he’d like to publish the letter. I told him “sure, that’s why I wrote it, so you would publish it.” He said he had to 1. Make sure it was me, and 2. Ask what part of town I live in, since they don’t normally identify people by their occupation.

See the first part of this conversation here.

I told them absolutely. Especially since in the letter I take them to task for drumming up support on the death of a baby, I don’t want to be hypocritically doing the same thing. He agrees, but then says that my position gives further credibility to my letter. “Up to you,” I say. I just want people to understand what really goes on out there.

And then I woke up Wednesday morning and what happened, my name is in the paper!


Not one phone call. Not one e-mail. Nothing.

I have to think no one who knows me read it.  They didn’t read the on-line version, they didn’t read the paper version. Or they skimmed it and missed the name.  The name is not so common, they even put my number!

And it was edited.  Please see the other half of this post to see the original, unedited version of the letter. I think the unedited version is punchier, but sometimes people don’t want punchy over their morning coffee.

And definitely no response from CASA. But we knew there wouldn’t be, right? What are they going to say “No, the judges don’t care about children.” Or would they say, “Sorry, we misspoke.” Of course not, never admit to a mistake.

Because that is what they are teaching to our children.

Hawaii Juvenile Law — The CASA program

Hawaii Juvenile Law -- The CASA program

Since I’ve gone into private practice I’ve been lucky enough to participate in all different types of judicial/non-judicial hearings. I’ve done negotiations, the national TTAB, Federal Court, and military court. One of my first cases as a private attorney involved a family involved in a matter where the State got involved and took away the parents’ right to make decisions as it involved their own kids.  There has never been a question that these parents absolutely loved the kids. Drugs are not even suggested to be in the picture.

It was during these hearings I got to know the CASA program. And then I read this letter in today’s paper.

The CASA program

I was offended.

No matter what my differences of opinion may be with Judge Viola, or Deputy Attorney General Erin Iwamoto-Torres, or Social Worker Mary Saga-Petaia, no one can say they don’t care for the kids in the judicial system. It takes only minutes of looking at Judge Viola think about his decisions to know he cares, deeply and and from his soul, about these kids.

Rarely am I driven to write a letter to the paper, in this case I did, leaving out the names.

My response

Ken Bailey’s letter of 6/3/2012 betrays quickly exactly what is wrong with the CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) program when he says “their CASA volunteer will be the one constant adult presence — the one adult who cares for them”.  Never mind judges that dedicate their life to this. Mr. Bailey lists and discounts the social workers for CPS, the doctors at Kapiolani, or the lawyers of the Attorney General’s office. The messiah complex of CASA is disgusting.  I’d like to assure him that each and every person involved in the court system cares very deeply about these children, not only him.

Remember always the people who often care the most about these children, their families.

Quite often families have babies too young, or without the necessary tools, and don’t know how to care for their children. Yes, sometimes, not always, drugs become a big issue.  But as the law agrees, our duty is to give families the tools to repatriate these children as soon as they are able to care for them. The State of Hawaii should not be in the business of divesting families of their children. For the amount of children that go through the system, we are doing pretty well.  Do we so soon forget that children die in Foster Care too?  A wise lady once said “it takes a village to raise a child”. CASA would do well to appreciate the other members of the village, of which they are but one.

And finally, to use the death of a child as a means to attract volunteers or traffic to your website, you should be ashamed. 

Marcus L. Landsberg IV
Landsberg Law Office
Executive Centre
1088 Bishop Street, Penthouse

Honolulu HI, 96813

I did what’s called “burying the lead”. I wrote at the end what I really wanted to yell from the mountaintops. A baby’s body isn’t cold, and you’re asking for donations?” This is how CASA chooses to Cherish the Children. And let’s be clear, this is advertisement for a website that clearly asks for donations.

Judges are not regularly lauded.  Basically when things go wrong, they’re on the front page, and when everything goes right people ask “Why do they get paid so much?” It’s realistic to think if Judge Viola, for example, does this until he retires, he’s probably going to lose ten years off of his life from the accumulated effects of the stress of these kids. We sweat and worry and scrimp and have heartache over an only child. I can only imagine how many children he holds in his care.  And if he returns the kids too early, they’re worse off.  And if he returns the kids too late (or never) it really destroys the fabric of society.

But at least as a judge, when he walks in the room, people’s backs straighten and want to shake his hand. The social workers, for a third of the money and none of the respect are the front lines in the war for child welfare. And lets be very clear here: The war for child welfare has little to do with who these kids are now, and everything to do with who they will become in the future. Will they be properly adjusted, or will they be in Halawa? Like I told my friend the other day, being from a broken home is not an excuse anymore, it’s called “Growing up in the 80′s.”

So in closing let me summarize my open letter to CASA like this. You’re not the only ones who care for these kids. We all care for these kids. The difference is we all recognize that we’re all a part of the village that is raising this child. If a single mother walked into J. Viola’s courtroom and said about her kids that she was “the one adult who cared for them”, what would he respond?

“Everybody in this room cares about your child. We’re all working very hard to do what’s best for your child. That includes working hard to get you, the parent, in a situation where we can put the child back with you. Work with us so we can all work together.”

CASA, work with us so we can all work together. If you’re working alone, you’re working against everyone else.  

For the good of the children.

Hawaii Criminal Defense: The Legal Blog

Issues in Hawaii Law.

Below is a collection of Articles I've written about Hawaii law.  Most are about criminal defense, Honolulu trial work, or future legal trends. Courtroom experience is probably the most common.  Others are comments on local or national law.  Hopefully there is something for you to find and enjoy.  If nothing else, you'll see the way I feel about certain issues, and the thought processes I put into legal problems we solve.

And some stories are just too funny NOT to tell.......

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