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The Supreme Court vacated the order and judgment of the circuit court granting the State’s motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction this challenge to the State’s implementation of Haw. Rev. Stat. 248-2.6, holding that the State’s application of section 248-2.6 was consistent with the statute’s plain language and legislative intent and that the statute does not violate the state or federal constitutions. Section 248-2.6 authorizes the State to be reimbursed for its costs in administering a rail surcharge on state general excise and use taxes on behalf of the City and County of Honolulu. Tax Foundation of Hawai’i filed a class action on behalf of all taxpayers in the City and County of Honolulu challenging the State’s application of section 248-2.6. The circuit court granted the State’s motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded with instructions to grant the State’s motion for summary judgment on the merits, holding (1) the circuit court had jurisdiction to hear Tax Foundation’s claims; (2) Tax Foundation had standing; (3) the State did not violate the statute by retaining ten percent of the surcharge gross proceeds; and (4) the State’s application of section 248-2.6 did not violate the state or federal constitutions. View "Tax Foundation of Hawaii v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirming the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment for Plaintiffs on their petition for an injunction against Defendant based on the testimony and findings of fact in an earlier district court civil case in which Plaintiffs prevailed against Defendants, holding that the judicially noticed facts that formed the basis of the judgment and injunction against Defendant were improperly admitted because the previous case had a lower burden of proof. The ICA held that any error in taking judicial notice of the testimony and findings of fact in the previous case was harmless. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) the district court exceeded the proper scope of judicial notice with regard to the previous case; and (2) because the district court erroneously took judicial notice of the facts of the previous case, its findings of fact, conclusions of law, and order granting summary judgment and an injunction in this case were erroneous. View "Uyeda v. Schermer" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) reinstating certain criminal charges dismissed by the circuit court based on the statute of limitations, holding that there were questions of fact regarding the statute of limitations applicable to those counts that must be determined by the factfinder, and therefore, the circuit court erred by dismissing those charges. The circuit court dismissed all six counts of theft filed against Defendant on the grounds that the felony information was filed after any extension of the three-year statute of limitations based on Haw. Rev. Stat. 701-108(3)(a) had expired. The ICA reinstated three of those counts. The Supreme Court affirmed as further clarified by this opinion, holding (1) the ICA did not err in holding that prosecutorial discretion allowed the three counts to be charged as separate offenses, and there were questions of fact regarding the statute of limitations applicable thereto; and (2) the ICA erred in holding that the earliest date of discovery for the three counts was September 5, 2013. View "State v. Pitolo" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court held that Rule 6 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Hawai’i (RSCH) did not prohibit Dentons US LLP from practicing law in Hawai’i through its Hawai’i-licensed attorneys because the portions of RSCH Rule 6 that prohibit non-Hawai’i-licensed attorneys from serving as directors or officers of Hawai’i law firms with a multi-jurisdictional presence were repealed by implication by other rules of the Court. When the RSCH Rule 6 was first promulgated, only Hawai’i-licensed attorneys could serve as partners or shareholders in Hawai’i law corporations. The Court’s ethical rules governing the practice of law changed thereafter to eliminate the requirement that only Hawai’i-licensed attorneys could serve as partners in Hawai’i law firms and to allow law firms practicing in Hawaii to have non-Hawai’i-licensed members. The Supreme Court held that RSCH Rule 6 did not prohibit a former law firm partners’ practice of law in Hawai’i as part of Dentons US LLP because the portions of RSCH Rule 6 at issue have been superseded, by implication, by other rules of the Court that permit law firms composed of Hawai’i-licensed and non-Hawaii-licensed attorneys to practice law in Hawai’i, to mean “in this state or in any other state or territory of the United States or the District of Columbia.” View "Sheveland v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgments of the courts below denying Petitioner’s petition filed pursuant to Hawaii Rules of Penal Procedure (HRPP) Rule 40 to vacate, set aside, or correct his 1987 conviction for driving while under the influence of an intoxicating liquor (DUI), holding that Petitioner’s right to counsel was violated back in 1987 and that the equitable doctrine of laches does not apply to HRPP Rule 40 petitions. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirmed the district court’s decision to deny Petitioner’s Rule 40 petition based on the equitable doctrine of laches, noting that Petitioner had waited more than twenty-five years to challenge his DUI conviction and that no transcripts of any of the proceedings in Petitioner’s DUI case were available. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA's judgment on appeal, Petitioner’s 1987 conviction for DUI, and the district court’s order, holding (1) Petitioner was erroneously deprived of the right to counsel in 1987; and (2) the doctrine of laches does not apply in the context of HRPP Rule 40 petitions. View "Akau v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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In this consolidated appeal from twenty-nine General Excise Tax (GET) assessments levied by the State Director of Taxation against five online travel companies based on car rental transactions taking place in the State between 2000 and 2013, the Supreme Court held that rental cars are tourism-related services and that the assessed transactions qualified for the reduced GET rate based only on the portion of the proceeds that the online travel companies retained. The online travel companies in this case argued (1) the majority of the assessments were barred because they already litigated their GET liability for the years 2000 through 2013 to final judgment in an earlier case; and (2) the rental car transactions should qualify for a reduced GET rate calculated based only on the portion of the proceeds that they retained because rental cars are “tourism-related services” within the meaning of a statutory income-reducing provision. The Supreme Court held (1) the assessments could be considered on the merits because the claim preclusion component of res judicata is not an available defense against the government’s sovereign power of taxation; and (2) car rentals are tourism-related services that qualify for GET apportionment under the circumstances of this case. View "In re Tax Appeal of Priceline.com, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated in part the intermediate court of appeals’ (ICA) judgment on appeal and vacated in part the circuit court’s order denying motion for correction or modification of the record filed May 18, 2015 and motion for disqualification filed September 10, 2015 and remanded the case to the circuit court for an evidentiary hearing on Appellant’s motion for correction and affirmed in part the ICA’s judgment affirming the circuit court’s order denying Appellant’s motion for disqualification. The Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court erred in denying Appellant’s motion for correction without a hearing, and the ICA erred in affirming the circuit court’s order on this claim; and (2) the ICA did not err in affirming the circuit court’s order denying Appellant’s motion for disqualification. View "State v. Chatman " on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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In these two election contests, the Supreme Court held that 350 absentee mail-in return envelopes were “received” by the Honolulu City Clerk after the deadline established by state law, and therefore, the ballots they contained should not have been counted, thus invalidating the result of the Honolulu City Council District IV special election. The special election at issue was for councilmember for District IV held on November 6, 2018. At issue in these election contests was the 350 absentee mail-in return envelopes, which the City Clerk at the Honolulu Airport post office did not take possession of until after 6 p.m. on election day, retrieving them instead from the mail facility in pickups that occurred at 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. The Supreme Court held that the ballots should not have been counted, and because they exceeded the twenty-two-vote margin by which the election was decided and because they were commingled with other ballots that were validly cast, the only option was to invalidate the result of the special election. View "Waters v. Nago " on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) vacating the district court’s dismissal of Defendant’s excessive speeding citation and remanded this case for further proceedings, holding that double jeopardy is inapplicable to the civil offense of speeding under its current statutory framework and that Defendant was subject to prosecution for both excessive speeding and speeding. Defendant was concurrently cited for speeding and excessive speeding offenses while driving through two separate speed zones. The district court granted Defendant’s motion to dismiss the excessive speeding charge, concluding that the “lesser included offense” provision of Haw. Rev. Stat. 701-109(1)(a) and the double jeopardy clause barred the State from prosecuting Defendant on the excessive speeding charge. The ICA vacated the district court’s order granting the motion to dismiss, holding that the entry of judgment on Defendant’s noncriminal speeding infraction failed to bar the State from prosecuting him for the crime of excessive speeding. The Supreme Court affirmed and remanded, holding that if the district court finds at trial that the excessive speeding charge arises from the same conduct as the speeding infraction, section 701-109(1)(a) will preclude Defendant’s conviction for excessive speeding. View "State v. Kalua" on Justia Law

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In this original proceeding challenging certain election results, the Supreme Court entered judgment in favor of the State of Hawaii, Chief Election Office Scott Nago, and the Office of Elections (collectively, the State Defendants) and against Plaintiff Matthew LoPresti, holding that Kurt Favella received the highest number of the votes case in the November 6, 2018 general election and has been elected to the Office of State Senate, District 19 pursuant to Haw. Rev. Stat. 11-155. Plaintiff filed a complaint challenging the election results for Office of State Senate, District 19, arguing, among other things, that irregularities in voting or counting of votes precluded the correct result from being ascertained and that Haw. Rev. Stat. 11-172 was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court denied relief, holding that there was no genuine issue of material fact precluding summary judgment in favor of the State Defendants. View "LoPresti v. State " on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law