Surgeon general pleads not guilty to charge of being in park closed for coronavirus

Surgeon general pleads not guilty to charge of being in park closed for coronavirus
© Greg Nash

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome AdamsJerome AdamsTrump administration surgeon general predicts 'winter surge' in COVID-19 Overnight Health Care — Biden urges parents to vaccinate children Trump surgeon general says he plans to vaccinate 11-year-old as soon as possible MORE pleaded not guilty to charges of being in a park that was closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, The Associated Press reports

A lawyer for the surgeon general on Monday pleaded not guilty on his behalf, the AP reports. Adams received a criminal citation from police in Honolulu earlier this year after he and an aide entered a closed state park to take pictures, the news outlet reported. 

Adams apparently did not ask for “special treatment” when he received the citation in August, according to Lex Smith, who was representing him. He reportedly told Honolulu police that Adams and the aide were unaware of the park's closure. 

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“During his visit to Oahu, the surgeon general was cited for accidentally violating the mayor’s emergency order, due to his misunderstanding of the law. He has not asked for, nor has he received, any special treatment in connection with this citation, and will respond to it appropriately," Smith told the AP in early October.

Dennis Anderson-Villaluz, an aide to the attorney general, was also cited and pleaded not guilty. 

Michael Green, who is representing Adams in Hawaii, accused the state of treating Adams “like he brought the pandemic here,” according to AP. Green said that officials waived a requirement for Adams to quarantine for 14 days when he arrived in the state because he was helping the state. 

“I’m not suggesting for a minute that because he’s the surgeon general ... his rights are any greater than other citizens,” Green said according to AP. “But he shouldn’t be treated worse because of that status. And that’s exactly what they’re doing.”

A spokesperson for the Honolulu prosecuting attorney’s office said in a statement to AP that “no one is given special treatment under the law regardless of who they are,” adding “all defendants have the same right to due process as anyone else.”

Gov. David Ige (D) began closing some state parks in March due to COVID-19 and later announced the closure of all Oahu parks in August, around the time when Adams and Anderson-Villaluz were cited, due to a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Numerous officials in the Trump administration have been criticized for publicly disregarding COVID-19 regulations. Multiple people at the White House became infected in October, including President TrumpDonald TrumpStowaway found in landing gear of plane after flight from Guatemala to Miami Kushner looking to Middle East for investors in new firm: report GOP eyes booting Democrats from seats if House flips MORE and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpJill Biden to reveal theme for White House's annual holiday decor Monday RNC pushes back against call for chair's resignation over LGBT outreach Trump Tower bar selling presidential cocktail with side of Diet Coke, beef sliders MORE.