Family Court judge resigns same day that complaint filed

Mimi DesJardins resigned as a 2nd Circuit Family Court judge Tuesday, the same day a complaint was filed in Wailuku District Court charging her with tampering with a government record, according to the state Judiciary.

The complaint alleges that DesJardins falsely made, completed or altered, or made a false entry in 10 judicial determination of probable cause documents Feb. 17. A judicial determination of probable cause is required to hold someone in custody longer than 48 hours from the time of arrest.

Deputy Attorney General Christopher Young said Wednesday that he couldn’t provide additional details “at this point” about the charge, which is based on an investigation by the state attorney general’s office.

He said the office was in the process of serving DesJardins with the complaint.

“She’s aware of it,” Young said.

DesJardin’s attorney, Philip Lowenthal, on Wednesday declined to comment “at this time.”

DesJardins is scheduled to appear May 2 in Wailuku District Court. First Circuit District Judge David Lo has been assigned to temporarily preside on Maui over all criminal proceedings in the case, according to the Judiciary.

The charge of tampering with a government record is a misdemeanor offense carrying a penalty of up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

Court observers said DesJardins hasn’t been on the Family Court bench for a few weeks.

Responding to a Maui News query about her absence, a Judiciary statement Wednesday said: “Judge DesJardins submitted a notice yesterday to the Judiciary of her intent to retire as a judge effective April 23, 2013. The Judiciary’s normal practice is to consider a voluntary separation from employment as a ‘resignation’ until an employee’s retirement status can be verified by the Employees’ Retirement System.”

DesJardins, 51, was appointed to be a Family Court judge Feb. 28, 2012. Before then, she was in private practice, handling family law and criminal cases since 1997. She had been a per diem District Court judge since 2006.

DesJardins worked as a Maui County deputy corporation counsel from 1996 to 1997, as a deputy public defender from 1991 to 1996 and as a county deputy prosecuting attorney in 1991.

She earned her law degree from the University of Puget Sound School of Law, now known as the Seattle University School of Law. She has been a member of the Washington bar since 1989 and the Hawaii bar since 1991.

The complaint against DesJardins lists the date of the offense as Feb. 17, a Sunday.

Usually, when someone is arrested over the weekend and there won’t be an opportunity for the person to be taken to court before the 48-hour window from the time of arrest lapses, a district judge will go to the police station to review an affidavit of an arresting officer and determine whether there’s probable cause to believe the person arrested has committed an offense.

“If probable cause is not found, or a proceeding to determine probable cause is not held within the time period provided by this subsection, the arrested person shall be ordered released and discharged from custody,” according to Hawaii Rules of Penal Procedure.