WAILUKU - The Maui County prosecutor's office is using a federal grant to hire another attorney to prosecute intoxicated drivers and other violators of traffic laws.
Lyle Keanini started in the new position as a deputy prosecutor Wednesday.
With his hiring, the number of deputy prosecutors assigned to handle District Court cases has increased to six, said Deputy Prosecutor Byron Fujieda, who is District Court supervisor for the prosecutor's office.
LYLE KEANINI, new deputy prosecutor
"It evens out the load for all the other deputies, where they can focus on their individual cases without being overloaded and put attention toward prosecution of traffic matters as well as misdemeanor cases," Fujieda said.
"We're very excited. We have a full staff of deputies to protect our community."
Part of the cost of hiring a new deputy prosecutor was funded by a 2012 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant award of $48,471 to Maui County.
The award, announced last month, was part of more than $1.1 million received statewide to support law enforcement through the grant funds administered by the U.S. Department of Justice.
In applying for the grant, the prosecutor's office said it would use the funds to hire a prosecutor focusing on traffic crimes and seeking maximum sentencing for violators, with the goal of promoting traffic safety in the community.
In the fiscal year that ended June 30, District Court attorneys in the prosecutor's office handled 942 cases of driving under the influence of an intoxicant, in addition to 2,506 other traffic and misdemeanor cases.
Keanini, a Molokai native, is a 2001 graduate of Molokai High School and 2008 graduate of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, where he earned a degree in financial services. He earned his law degree last August from the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaii.
Before joining the prosecutor's office, Keanini was law clerk for 2nd Circuit Judge Richard Bissen.
Keanini spent two years in South Korea from 2002 to 2004 while on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Kaunakakai Ward.