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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirming the judgment of the district court that Defendant violated Haw. Rev. Stat. 286-102(b) by operating a motor vehicle without a valid driver's license, holding that because Defendant failed to meet her burden to produce "some evidence" to support an exemption from the requirement to operate a motor vehicle with a valid Hawai'i driver's license, as set forth in Haw. Rev. Stat. 286-105, the burden did not shift to the State. Defendant argued on appeal that the State bore the burden to prove that Defendant did not possess a valid driver's license issued by Canada or a valid commercial driver's license issued by Canada or Mexico, which would have exempted her from the requirement to operate a motor vehicle with a valid Hawai'i driver's license. The ICA disagreed and affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant bore the burden to produce evidence that she possessed a valid driver’s license in Canada or a valid commercial driver’s license in Canada or Mexico before the burden shifted to the State to prove that she did not have a driver’s license that qualified as an exemption. View "State v. Castillon" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) on appeal and the circuit court's order granting summary judgment against Plaintiff on the basis of his failure to timely respond to Defendant's request for admissions, holding that the trial court abused its discretion by denying withdrawal of Plaintiff's admissions and, absent the admissions, there were genuine issues of material fact precluding summary judgment against Plaintiff. Plaintiff's claims were dismissed based on his alleged failure timely to respond to a request for admissions, even where he had requested that the trial court provide him with an interpreter to help answer the requests. Plaintiff was denied the opportunity to exercise his right to a jury trial on the basis of his alleged failure to respond to a request for admissions that asked him to concede he had no claim. The ICA affirmed. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that his request for an interpreter should have been construed as a request to withdraw the admissions and file a late response. The Supreme Court agreed and reversed, holding that Plaintiff's request to obtain an interpreter should have been considered a motion to withdraw his admissions and continue the hearing on the motion for summary judgment. View "Villaver v. Sylva" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the decision and order of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approving an amended power purchase agreement (PPA) between Hawai'i Electric Light Company, Inc. (HELCO) and Hu Honua Bioenergy, LLC, pursuant to which Hu Honua would construct and operate a biomass-field energy production facility and HELCO would purchase energy from the facility, holding that the PUC failed explicitly to consider greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in determining whether to approve the amended PPA and denied Life of the Land due process during the underlying proceedings. LOL, an environmental nonprofit organization, sought to intervene as a party in the PUC's proceeding in order to address the environmental impacts of the proposed facility. The PUC granted LOL limited participation in the proceeding and then approved the amended PPA. The Supreme Court vacated the PUC's order, holding (1) this Court has jurisdiction to consider LOL's appeal; (2) the PUC erred by failing explicitly to consider the reduction of GHG emissions in approving the amended PPA, as required by statute; and (3) the PUC denied LOL due process to protect its interest in a clean and healthful environment by restricting its participation in the proceeding. View "In re Application of Hawai'i Electric Light Co." on Justia Law

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In this foreclosure action, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) vacating the circuit court's grant of summary judgment for Nationstar Mortgage, LLC but corrected the ICA's reasoning, holding that the ICA erred in holding that Nationstar's business records were trustworthy under the business records exception to hearsay and that Daniel Kaleoaloha Kanahele's affirmative defenses should have been addressed by the circuit court. After Kanahele defaulted on a loan, Nationstar initiated this foreclosure action. The circuit court issued final judgment in favor of Nationstar. Although the ICA vacated the judgment and remanded for further proceedings, Kanahele asked the Supreme Court to review additional issues he argued were either incorrectly resolved or left unresolved by the ICA. The Supreme Court held that the ICA erred with respect to two issues and that Kanahele would be prejudiced on remand absent the Court's further review. Specifically, the Court held (1) in light of Nationstar's failure adequately to explain material discrepancies in its business records and its presentation of contradictory declarations regarding which of several versions of Kanahele's note was the original, the ICA should have vacated the circuit court's order on this ground as well; and (2) the ICA should have clarified whether Nationstar was subject to Kanahele's affirmative defenses. View "Nationstar Mortgage LLC v. Kanahele" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part the judgment of the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) finding that no evidence was introduced at trial to support the jury's findings that Regal Capital Corporation (Regal Corp.) violated the terms of agreements of sale it entered into with Elesther Calipjo for two parcels of land, Regal Capital Co., LLC (Regal LLC) engaged in unfair and deceptive acts or practices, and Jack Purdy was the alter ego of Regal Corp. and Regal LLC, holding that the ICA's holding was error. Based on the alter ego finding, the jury determined that Purdy, too violated the agreements for the two properties and committed unfair and deceptive acts or practices. The Supreme Court held (1) there was evidence to support the jury's verdict that Regal Corp. violated the terms of the agreements, Regal LLC engaged in unfair and deceptive acts or practices, and Purdy was the alter ego of Regal Corp. and Regal LLC; and (2) the ICA erred when it reversed the circuit court's final judgment against Purdy on the breach of contract and unfair and deceptive acts or practices claims. View "Calipjo v. Purdy" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated Defendant's convictions and remanded this case to the circuit court for further proceedings, holding that multiple instances of improper prosecutorial conduct cumulatively jeopardized Defendant's right to a fair trial. Defendant was convicted of murder in the second degree and carrying or use of a firearm in the commission of a separate felony. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirmed. Defendant appealed, arguing, among other things, that the circuit court erred in denying his motions for mistrial and motion for a new trial due to prosecutorial misconduct. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that the cumulative effect of the prosecutor's improper conduct was so prejudicial as to jeopardize Defendant's right a fair trial. View "State v. Pasene" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirming the district court's judgment finding Defendant guilty of obstructing a highway or public passage after Defendant appeared pro se before the court, holding that the record on appeal did not indicate a valid waiver of counsel. At Defendant's plea hearing Defendant signed a form waiving his right to counsel. The court engaged in a colloquy with Defendant. Thereafter, the district court found Defendant guilty as charged. The ICA affirmed the district court's judgment. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA's judgment on appeal and the district court's judgment, holding that, under the circumstances of this case, Defendant did not provide an intelligent and knowing waiver of his right to counsel. View "State v. Fujiyoshi" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) partially vacating the circuit court's judgment entering judgment against Plaintiffs in this action alleging that Defendants intentionally misrepresented the value of a limousine service, holding that some of the rulings of the trial court in this complex commercial dispute involving the sale of the business were in error. The Lacy Parties represented Goran and Ana Maria Pleho in purchasing the business. The transaction was completed in the name of Goran PLeho LLC (GPLLC). After the purchase, the Plehos and GPLLC (collectively, Pleho Parties) sued, alleging that Lacy Parties intentionally misrepresented the value of the business. The Supreme Court (1) vacated the circuit court's dismissal of Pleho Parties' intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress claims and the court's grant of judgment as a matter of law in favor of Lacy Parties on GPLLC's fraud and punitive damages claims; (2) vacated the ICA's judgment to the extent that it vacated the circuit court's order denying Lacy Parties' motion in limine; and (3) vacated the ICA's judgment to the extent that it affirmed the grant of summary judgment in favor of Lacy Parties on the Pleho's unfair and deceptive trade practices claim. View "Goran Pleho, LLC v. Lacy" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions, holding that trial courts must engage the defendant in an on-the-record colloquy regarding the right to testify and right not to testify when either right is waived, effectively making such a colloquy necessary in every trial. The Court further held that this requirement will be effective in trials beginning after the filing date of this opinion. Before this opinion, court procedures required that a trial court engage a defendant in an on-the-record colloquy only when the defendant waived the right to testify but not when the defendant waived the reciprocal right not to testify. Defendant in this case argued that the circuit court erred by failing to advise him of his right not to testify before trial. The intermediate court of appeals concluded that Defendant was not prejudiced by the lack of a pretrial advisement. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant voluntarily waived the right to a jury trial; (2) the circuit court erred by failing to give a pretrial advisement, but the lack of a pretrial advisement was harmless error; and (3) prospectively, a colloquy pursuant to Tachibana v. State, 900 P.2d 1293, 1304 (Haw. 1995), must be given in all trials. View "State v. Torres" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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In this criminal case, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA) rejecting the State's confession of error that insufficient foundation was laid for the admission into evidence of the results of a field sobriety test known as the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test, holding that the admission of the HGN evidence did not rise to plain error. The confession of error also conceded that, absent the results of the HGN test, insufficient evidence supported Defendant's conviction of operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant. The ICA rejected the confession of error based on its erroneous conclusion that the failure of Defendant's trial counsel to object to the admission of the results of the HGN test automatically disqualified it from appellate consideration as plain error. The Supreme Court affirmed on other grounds, holding that the ICA failed to apply the property standard in determining whether the State's confession of error should be accepted, holding that, in light of the evidentiary record, the admission into evidence of the HGN test results was not plain error. View "State v. Arkin " on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law