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The circuit court erred when it restricted Defendant during his criminal trial in deciding whether and when in the course of presenting his defense he should take the stand, in violation of his constitutional privilege against self-incrimination, his constitutional right to the assistance of counsel, and his right to due process of law. Although the trial was anticipated to last up to six days, the State rested its case-in-chief in the early afternoon on the first day of the evidentiary portion of the trial. Over defense counsel’s objection, the circuit court ordered Defendant to take the stand that day or forfeit his right to testify entirely. Consequently, Defendant took the stand and testified before the other witnesses in the defense’s case. The Supreme Court vacated the circuit court’s judgment and remanded the case for a new trial, holding that the circuit court erred and that the error was not subject to harmless error review. View "State v. Loher" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed its decision in Narayan I, in which the court held that Plaintiffs, a group of individual condominium owners, could not be compelled to arbitrate claims arising from the financial breakdown of a condominium project. Specifically, the court held in Narayan I that the arbitration clause was unenforceable because the terms of the documents at issue were ambiguous with respect to Plaintiffs’ intent to arbitrate and that portions of the arbitration clause were unconscionable. The United States Supreme Court vacated and remanded Narayan I for further consideration in light of its recent decision in DIRECTV, Inc. v. Imburgia, 577 U.S. __ (2015), which held that state law must place arbitration agreements on equal footing with all other contracts. After recognizing this principle, the Hawaii Supreme Court held that that the arbitration clause at issue in the present case was unconscionable under common law contract principles. View "Narayan v. Ritz-Carlton Development Co." on Justia Law

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Petitioner applied for certiorari review of the ICA's order dismissing her appeal from an unfavorable summary judgment order. The Supreme Court of Hawai'i vacated the dismissal order because all claims against all parties have been resolved and entry of a final appealable judgment was warranted. The court remanded with instructions to temporarily remand the case to the circuit court to enter an appealable final judgment, to direct the circuit court to supplement the record on appeal with the final judgment, and to then proceed to consider the appeal accordingly. View "Waikiki v. Ho'omaka Village Ass'n" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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Plaintiff, a member of the Employees' Retirement System of the State of Hawai'i (ERS), challenged the denial of "service-connected disability retirement" benefits after she was shot while serving as a public summer school teacher. The Supreme Court of Hawai'i held that plaintiff was eligible for service-connected disability retirement under applicable law. HRS 88-79 provides that an ERS member may be retired by the ERS for service-connected disability retirement if she was permanently incapacitated for duty as the natural and proximate result of an accident occurring while in the actual performance of duty at some definite time and place. In this case, although plaintiff's summer school employment at the school was not "membership service," it was nonetheless "service," and HRS 88-779 provided for "service-connected disability retirement," not "membership service-connected disability retirement." View "Stout v. Board of Trustees of the Employees' Retirement System" on Justia Law

Posted in: ERISA

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A defendant’s failure to take prescription medication does not constitute self-induced intoxication under Haw. Rev. Stat. 702-230, which precludes the defendant from relying on the defense of lack of penal responsibility due to a physical or mental disease, disorder or defect. Defendant, who was charged with assault in the second degree, presented the defense of lack of criminal responsibility as a result of disease, disorder, or defect. The circuit court found Defendant guilty, concluding that any disease, disorder, or defect Defendant was experiencing at the time of the assault was self-induced and the product of Defendant’s refusal to take his prescribed medication and his use of marijuana. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA’s judgment on appeal and the circuit court’s judgment of conviction, holding that the circuit court’s holding that Defendant’s failure to take his medication caused his psychotic behavior was inconsistent with the plain language of section 702-230, which requires the introduction of substances into the body. View "State v. Eager" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of criminal trespassing in the first degree, terroristic threatening in the second degree, and assault in the third degree. Defendant appealed, arguing that the circuit court influenced his decision not to testify by intimidating him through the trial. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirmed, concluding that the circuit court adequately advised Defendant of his rights and obtained a valid waiver of his right to testify. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the record was insufficient to support a conclusion that Defendant’s waiver of the right to testify was voluntarily, intelligently, and knowingly made. View "State v. Kim" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) vacating Defendant’s conviction for operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant (OVUII) in violation of Haw. Rev. Stat. 291E-61(a)(1), reversing Defendant’s conviction for OVUII in violation of Haw. Rev. Stat. 291E-61(a)(3), and remanding the case for a new trial. On appeal, Defendant argued that his conviction under section 291E-61(a)(1) should be reversed rather than vacated and remanded for a new trial. The Supreme Court disagreed and held (1) the ICA did not err in concluding that the charge was not fatally defective for failing to include the statutory definition of the term “alcohol” and in concluding that there was substantial evidence to support Defendant’s conviction under section 291E-61(a)(1); and (2) the district court’s admonishment of Defendant for his decision to pursue trial may have violated his constitutional rights to due process and against self-incrimination. View "State v. Nakamitsu" on Justia Law

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In these consolidated cases (Garner and Kawashima), the Supreme Court held that the circuit court erred in determining that Regulation 5203 was a Haw. Rev. Stat. chapter 91 rule and in granting summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs for their hourly back wages contract claims. Further, the court erred in finding in the Garner case that Plaintiffs were entitled to interest on their per diem and hourly back wages under Haw. Rev. Stat. 103-10. Plaintiffs in both cases - substitute and part-time temporary teachers (PTTs) who were employed by the State, Department of Education (DOE) - claimed they were underpaid by the State. In Garner, the circuit court awarded hourly back wages to Plaintiffs who worked in a part-time capacity and also awarded interest on both the per diem and hourly back wages owed. In Kawashima, the circuit court awarded the PTTs hourly back wages but ruled that the PTTs were not entitled to interest on their unpaid hourly wages. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment in Garner and affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment in Kawashima, holding that Plaintiffs were not entitled to hourly back wages or interest on any back wages, whether per diem or hourly, under section 103-10. View "Kawashima v. State, Department of Education" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed Defendant’s conviction of committing the offense of terroristic threatening in the second degree, rendered after a bench trial. On appeal, Defendant argued that his substantial rights were violated when, during closing argument, the prosecutor read a portion of the complainant’s prior statement to the police where its contents had not been admitted into evidence. The Supreme Court agreed that error occurred, holding that the error was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt because the prior statement was clearly relevant to proving the terroristic threatening offense, the State’s case was enhanced by the statement, and the defense’s case was significantly prejudiced. The court remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings. View "State v. McGhee" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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In eight separate criminal cases, International Fidelity Insurance Company issued eight separate powers of attorney (POAs) to either Ida Peppers of Freedom Bail Bond or Charles Fisher of AAA Local Bail Bonds to execute a bail bond on behalf of the defendants in each case. In each case, the bonded defendant failed to appear, and the circuit court entered a judgment and order of forfeiture of bail bond. The court provided notice of those judgments to the surety listed on the bonds. International Fidelity moved to set aside each of the forfeiture judgments, arguing that it did not receive notice of the judgments as required under Haw. Rev. Stat. 804-51. The circuit court denied the motions. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirmed, concluding that due process and the requirements of section 804-51 were satisfied when notice of the forfeiture judgments were issued to Peppers or Fisher. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the ICA did not err (1) in determining that notice to International Fidelity of the forfeiture judgments was not required by due process or under section 804-51; and (2) to the extent the forfeiture judgments were ambiguous, they were entered against the sureties on the bond - Peppers or Fisher. View "State v. Nelson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law