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The Supreme Court expressly rejected the Twombly/Iqbal “plausibility” pleading standard in this case and reaffirmed that in Hawai’i state courts, the traditional “notice” pleading standard governs. On the first appeal before the Supreme Court, the Court vacated a foreclosure decree based on issues of fact regarding whether Bank of America, N.A. held the note at the time the foreclosure lawsuit was filed. The Court remanded the case to the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) for a determination of whether the circuit court erred by dismissing the homeowner’s counterclaim before granting summary judgment for foreclosure in favor of Bank of America. On remand, the ICA upheld the dismissal of three counts, including a wrongful foreclosure count, in the homeowner’s counterclaim. The homeowner appealed, arguing that the ICA applied the wrong pleading standard. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA’s judgment on appeal, holding (1) a pleading must meet the traditional “notice” standard to overcome a Haw. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss; and (2) a party may bring a claim for wrongful foreclosure before the foreclosure actually occurs. View "Bank of America, N.A. v. Reyes-Toledo" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether the time to file a motion to vacate an arbitration award is limited by the opposing party’s filing of a motion to confirm and how an order denying a motion to vacate an arbitration award can properly be appealed. After receiving notice of an arbitrator’s award in their favor, Plaintiffs filed a motion to confirm the award. Before the ninety-day period in which Defendants could file a motion to vacate the award had expired, the circuit court granted Plaintiffs’ motion to confirm. Defendants, then moved to vacate the award within the ninety-day period. The circuit court denied the motion to vacate. Defendants appealed the judgment of confirmation and the order denying the motion to vacate. The ICA dismissed the appeal. Thereafter, the circuit court amended its order to “again confirm” the award to allow Defendants to appeal. The ICA dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding that because Defendants timely appealed an order that amended the circuit court’s prior order denying their motion to vacate in a “material and substantial respect” and because Defendants filed their motion to vacate within the statutory period, the ICA erred in dismissing the appeal. View "Bennett v. Chung" on Justia Law

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In this dispute over the parentage of a child, the Supreme Court held that both the Uniform Parentage Act (UPA) and Hawaii’s Marriage Equality Act demonstrate that the UPA’s marital presumption of paternity applies equally to both men and women and that Appellant did not rebut the presumption of parentage. LC sought a divorce from her wife, MG shortly after a child was born to MG through an artificial insemination procedure. LC and MG were legally married at the time of the child’s birth, but LC was not biologically related to the child. After the child’s birth, LC sought an order seeking to disestablish parentage. The family court denied the request, determining that LC was the child’s legal parent. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that LC was presumed to be the legal mother of the child and that LC did not rebut the presumption of parentage. View "LC v. MG " on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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At issue on appeal was whether a motion for sanctions may be dismissed without prejudice when the underlying facts and issues allegedly establishing the sanctionable conduct are also at issue in another pending case involving the same parties. The Supreme Court held (1) the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it dismissed the motion for sanctions without prejudice where the district court would likely need to consider many of the same factual issues that were also at play in the pending circuit court action; and (2) while the signature of a court clerk or judge is generally necessary for appellate review of a final order, the signed filings related to the order being appealed were sufficient in this case to provide appellate jurisdiction. View "Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. v. Greenspon" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgments of the Intermediate Court of Appeals and circuit court finding that Defendant was the first aggressor in a late-night confrontation and the subsequent denial of Defendant’s request to introduce evidence of the victim’s prior violent acts under Haw. R. Evid. 404 and 405 to show his violent or aggressive character. The Court (1) because a victim’s violent or aggressive behavior is an essential element of a self-defense claim for purposes of determining admissibility under Rule 405, specific instances of conduct, such as a victim’s prior violent acts, can be used as a method of proving character in such circumstances under the rule; and (2) the circuit court erred in finding no factual dispute as to who was the first aggressor, and the error was not harmless. View "State v. DeLeon" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA) concluding that the circuit court erred in granting Defendant’s motion to dismiss his charge of theft as a continuing course of conduct after concluding that Defendant could not simultaneously be charged with the theft count and five individual counts of forgery. The ICA vacated the circuit court’s order granting Defendant’s motion to dismiss, concluding that the State was not barred from charging Defendant with theft in the second degree for passing five fraudulently executed checks amounting to $720 over the course of six days as a continuing course of conduct. On appeal, Defendant argued that when the State charged him with five separate counts of forgery, it recognized the episodic nature of each act and therefore could not simultaneously charge him with theft under a continuing course of conduct theory. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that theft can be charged as a continuing course of conduct, notwithstanding a decision to charge individual counts of forgery. View "State v. Yokota" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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In this election contest, the Supreme Court dismissed Plaintiffs’ second amended complaint against Romy Cachola, one of two Democratic Party candidates for the Office of State Representative, and Chief Election Officer Scott Nago, holding that that amended complaint failed to state claims upon which relief can be granted. Cachola received the highest number of votes in the Democratic Party race for the Office of State Representative, District 30. In their amended complaint, Plaintiffs alleged that during the course of the 2018 primary campaign Cachola committed election fraud and other election offenses and that Nago violated his duty under state law by failing to preclude vote tampering in an election and failing to comply with federal requirements in conducting an election. The Supreme Court denied relief, holding that Plaintiffs’ allegations of election fraud or vote tampering were not sufficient to constitute mistakes or errors that would change the results of the primary election, and therefore, the complaint was not legally sufficient. View "Jane & John Doe Voters 1-47 v. Cachola" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

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The Supreme Court vacate the circuit court’s order denying Petitioner’s petition for postconviction relief, holding that credible testimony during Petitioner’s postconviction hearing clearly indicated that an arrangement existed in which a codefendant expected to benefit from his testimony and that the nondisclosure of this arrangement deprived Petitioner of a fair trial with respect to several of his convictions. Petitioner was convicted of several crimes based in part on the codefendant’s testimony, who chose to testify for the State following an improper ex parte meeting between the prosecutor, judge, and codefendant’s counsel. Petitioner filed a petition for postconviction relief asserting that an undisclosed, unwritten agreement existed between the prosecutor and the codefendant under which the codefendant was promise a favorable recommendation at sentencing in exchange for his “truthful” testimony. The circuit court denied postconviction relief. The Supreme Court vacated the circuit court’s order, as well as those convictions and sentences that may have reasonably been affected by the improper nondisclosure, holding that Petitioner’s right of a fair trial was violated by the nondisclosure. View "Birano v. State" on Justia Law

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In this constitutional speedy trial challenge, the Supreme Court remanded the case for dismissal with or without prejudice as the trial court determines to be appropriate under the court rules and set forth applicable legal principles to assist the trial court in its evaluation of Defendant’s speedy trial challenge if the dismissal is determined to be without prejudice. After Defendant’s initial court appearance, the State was not prepared to proceed with a prosecution. Seven months later, Defendant was indicted for the crime for which he had been arrested. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the case based on the State’s delay in bringing the prosecution. The Supreme Court held (1) because no written order or notice was filed effectively discharging Defendant’s bail, Defendant remained held to answer for the crime underlying his arrest, and therefore, the case must be dismissed under court rules; and (2) the Intermediate Court of Appeals erred by considering the legal merits of Defendant’s constitutional speedy trial claim because the trial court failed to make the factual findings necessary for review. View "State v. Visintin" on Justia Law

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In this primary election challenge, the Supreme Court ordered that the name of David Y. Ige be placed on the ballot as the Democratic Party candidate for the Office of Governor for the 2018 general election, holding that the election objection filed by Plaintiff Richard Kim failed to state claims upon which relief can be granted. Kim, one of six Democratic Party candidates for the Office of Governor in the August 11, 2018 primary election, filed this complaint challenging the August 11, 2018 primary election. Plaintiff alleged that Defendant Ige bribed committed election offenses and asked the Supreme Court to disqualify Ige as the Democratic Party gubernatorial candidate and order a new primary election without Ige’s name on the ballot. The supreme Court held (1) this Court did not have original jurisdiction to prosecute the criminal offenses alleged by Kim; and (2) Kim could prove no set of facts that would entitle him to relief. View "Kim v. Ige " on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law