The Maui County Council unanimously confirmed Donald S. Guzman to head the office of Prosecuting Attorney at its regular meeting of April 5, 2019 by a vote of 9-0.
Guzman comes to the office with extensive legal and public service background. An attorney by training he served as a Maui deputy prosecutor from mid 2000 to mid 2005; he went on to be an attorney in private practice in Wailuku. Guzman was elected to the Maui County Council and served from Jan. 2013 through December 2018. During his years in office he headed the council’s legal affairs committee from 2014 to the end of 2018.
In 2018 he was an unsuccessful candidate for Maui mayor, in a three way primary race. The general election was won by Mike Victorino, who nominated him to the post of Prosecuting Attorney.
Members of the public testifying in favor of the Guzman nomination included Rick Nava of Lahaina and retired 2nd Circuit Court Judge Artemio Baxa.
Council member Keani Rawlins Fernandez spoke in favor of the nomination saying in his brief time in office Guzman has already helped to “transform the culture of the office” and “worked to improve community relations” especially with victims and their families. “Your actions have not gone unnoticed,” she said.
Rawlins Fernandez noted that Guzman has already taken the first step in correcting a situation where it was alleged that a deputy prosecutor had taken a truck from forfeited property and converted it to his own use. Due to Guzman’s efforts, she said, the keys to the vehicle in question were returned to the mayor’s office. She commended him for the follow up on the matter which came to light during an earlier March 12 council committee meeting. She praised him for “setting a high standard of professional conduct.”
Member Paltin also expressed her support for Guzman and thanked him for following up on “privacy” concerns. At the same March 12 meeting there were questions about whether the former prosecutor JD Kim, (who had been nominated to continue in the post but failed to win council approval) had conducted background checks on members of the council and their staffs.
Guzman laid these rumors to rest saying he had checked both with the software company and with the office to the State Attorney General to confirm that no background checks on either council members or their employees had been conducted. “Background checks,” he said are limited to criminal cases.”
Guzman thanked the council for doing their “due diligence,” and the “many hours of vetting” that had gone into reviewing his nomination.