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Peter the Prosecutor

Peter Carlisle is exactly what you'd expect from a prosecutor—a quick-on-his-feet, tough-talking lawman who lives to put away bad guys. When he's not on the job, he occasionally dons an evening gown, quotes liberally from "Blade Runner" and can get a little weird about his car.


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After talking with his family, Carlisle asks me if I want to see where he keeps his awards. I follow him and Judy upstairs, through their master bedroom and into their bathroom, which has a separate room for the toilet—the room where Carlisle keeps his awards.

Directly above the toilet tank is a poster-size photo of him as deputy prosecutor, surrounded by dozens of employees from his office in 1988. Rows of plaques, framed certificates, Star-Bulletin caricatures, even a HONOLULU Magazine story from 1997 titled, “Why is this man wearing a tutu?” featuring Carlisle competing in a Dennis Rodman look-alike contest.

“He spends a lot of time in here,” Judy jokes.

An old movie blares on the flat screen in the bedroom. Carlisle loves going to the movies—"Forgetting Sarah Marshall was excellent,” he says—although his kids complain he laughs so hard that it’s hard to hear. At home, Carlisle prefers the classics, like Northwest Passage. Right now, he’s watching Pride and the Passion, the widely panned 1957 epic starring Sophia Loren, Cary Grant and Frank Sinatra.  

“He watches these movies till 2 in the morning, even though he’s seen them 10 times, like they’re going to end differently,” Judy says. He sometimes falls asleep in bed with one of the cats while the TV’s still on.  

“It’s mindless,” Carlisle says. “I like knowing all the lines.”

He pauses, then, “‘I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I’ve watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.’”

I don’t know what to say.

Blade Runner,” he says.


This is Carlisle at home when he’s not in the middle of a trial. Carlisle prosecutes about one case per year—something a lot of prosecutors in his position don’t do. When he’s working on a case, he doesn’t go to the movies. He doesn’t do events. He’s hardly home at all. He’s in the office by 6 a.m. and works past dinnertime, seven days a week.  

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Honolulu Magazine March 2018
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