Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Hawaii

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The circuit court deprived Defendant of his right to confront and cross-examine the complaining witness (CW) as to her bias and motive by limiting the CW’s testimony on the subject of Defendant’s immigration status and whether the CW knew that Defendant could face deportation if he was arrested. Defendant was found guilty of terroristic threatening in the first degree. The offense arose from a domestic dispute between Defendant and his ex-girlfriend, the CW. The intermediate court of appeals affirmed the judgment of conviction. Defendant filed an application for writ of certiorari, challenging the circuit court’s decision to limit the CW’s testimony on cross-examination. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of conviction and probation sentence and remanded the case to the circuit court for a new trial. View "State v. Acacio" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was the question that the Supreme Court left open in State v. Mainaaupo, 178 P.3d 1 (Haw. 2008): whether the right to remain silent attaches rearrest and, if so, in what manner and to what extent may prearrest silence be used by the State in a criminal trial. The Supreme Court held (1) the right to remain silent under Haw. Const. art. I, section 10 attaches at least at the point at which a person has been seized; (2) evidence regarding a defendant’s exercise of the right to remain silent may not be used as substantive evidence of guilt, and the State may not elicit evidence of prearrest silence to imply Defendant’s guilt or introduce evidence whose character suggests to the fact-finder that the defendant’s prearrest silence is inferential evidence of the defendant’s guilt. Because Defendant’s prearrest silence in this case was introduced into evidence as substantive proof of Defendant’s guilt and the error was not harmless, the case must be remanded for a new trial. View "State v. Tsujimura" on Justia Law

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The circuit court excluded three statements that Defendant made to the police, concluding that the first and second statements were unlawfully elicited from Defendant because they were obtained prior to the police apprising Defendant of his Miranda right. The court concluded that the third statement, obtained from Defendant when he invoked his right to counsel while being given Miranda warnings, was a product of the two earlier illegally obtained statements. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) vacated the circuit court’s ruling as to the second and third statements. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA’s judgment on appeal and affirmed the circuit court’s order suppressing the statements, holding that the second statement was inadmissible into evidence because it was the product of pre-Miranda custodial interrogation and that the third statement was the fruit of the first and second statements. View "State v. Trinque" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the District Court of the Fifth Circuit finding Defendant guilty of simple trespass and harassment, holding that the record on appeal did not indicate a valid waiver of counsel. Defendant elected to proceed pro se at trial. On appeal, the Supreme Court engaged in a plain error to review to determine whether Defendant’s constitutional right to counsel may have been affected during the proceedings below. The court held that, based on the totality of the circumstances in this case, there was no valid waiver of counsel under the test set forth in State v. Phua. View "State v. Erum " on Justia Law

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Court had discretion to permit government-condemnor to withdraw a portion of deposit of estimated just compensation. Three parcels of privately-owned property were condemned for a public park. In the owner’s appeal, the Supreme Court of Hawaii held that the presence or lack of physical unity is not dispositive of whether a condemnee is entitled to severance damages. A deposit of estimated just compensation does not become conditional, and blight of summons damages do not begin to accrue, when a condemning authority objects to a condemnee’s motion to withdraw funds based on the fact that the condemnee’s entitlement to such funds is unclear. The court in an eminent domain proceeding has discretion to permit a governmental entity to withdraw a portion of a deposit of estimated just compensation when the deposit has not been disbursed to the landowner, the government acted in good faith in seeking to adjust the estimate to accurately reflect the value of the property on the date of the summons, and the adjustment will not impair the substantial rights of any party in interest. View "County of Kauai v. Hanalei River Holdings Limited" on Justia Law

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An anticipatory search warrant must, on its face, identify the triggering condition on the face of the warrant to be valid. Petitioners were charged with drug offenses based on evidence seized in a search conducted pursuant to an anticipatory search warrant. The circuit court denied Petitioners’ motion to suppress the evidence, and the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA's judgment and the circuit court’s denial of Petitioners’ motion to suppress, holding that, in light of this opinion, the search warrant was unlawful. The court remanded the case to the circuit court for further proceedings. View "State v. Curtis" on Justia Law

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This appeal was the most recent development in litigation concerning the ownership and control of the Marn family business. Alexander Marn sought a declaratory judgment and specific performance regarding his rights to the business. Despite a jury demand, the circuit court held a bench trial. Thereafter, the circuit court entered partial final judgment against Alexander. The Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA) affirmed, concluding that the circuit court did not err in conducting a bench trial instead of a jury trial. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA’s judgment on appeal, holding that the ICA gravely erred in affirming the circuit court’s decision to conduct a bench trial, as Alexander was entitled to a jury trial on his declaratory judgment action, and a jury trial was properly demanded and preserved. Remanded. View "In re Marn Family Litigation" on Justia Law

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Defendant was charged by complaint with one count of unauthorized possession of confidential personal information (UPCPI). Defendant moved to dismiss the complaint. The circuit court granted the motion in part. The intermediate court of appeals vacated the order and remanded for further proceedings. On remand, Defendant moved to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that the UPCPI statutes are unconstitutionally vague and overbroad. In a separate dismissal motion, Defendant alleged that the complaint failed to provide him fair notice of the nature and cause of the accusation. The circuit court dismissed the case, concluding (1) the complaint was fatally defective because it denied Defendant of his right to be fully informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him, and (2) the UPCPI statutes were not void for vagueness but were overbroad. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part, holding (1) the complaint was legally insufficient; (2) the UPCPI statutes are not facially overbroad; and (3) portions of the UPCPI statutes are unconstitutionally vague, but they are severable from the constitutional parts of the statutes. View "State v. Pacquing" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted for the attempted murder of his wife. Defendant appealed, arguing that the circuit court violated his rights under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Haw. Const. art. I, 7 by denying his motion to suppress. The Intermediate Court of Appeals vacated Defendant’s conviction, concluding that the circuit court erred in applying the plain view doctrine to the discovery of certain evidence. The Supreme Court reversed the ICA’s judgment on appeal and affirmed the trial court’s amended judgment of conviction, holding (1) the ICA adopted an interpretation of the plain view doctrine that is contrary to the Court’s prior decisions and the protections and limits of the rights guaranteed under Haw. Const. art. I, 7; and (2) the warrantless seizure of the evidence at issue was lawful. View "State v. Phillips" on Justia Law

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Defendant was arrested for possession of methamphetamine after a routine traffic stop. Defendant was convicted and sentenced for promotion of a dangerous drug in the third degree. Defendant appealed, arguing that the circuit court erred in denying his motion to suppress drug evidence recovered as a result of a canine narcotics screen that was performed on his vehicle. The Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA) affirmed Defendant’s conviction and the denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA’s judgment, holding that the ICA erred in affirming the denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress, as the canine screen was a separate unlawful seizure not reasonably related in scope to the original traffic stop. Remanded. View "State v. Alvarez" on Justia Law