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At issue in this appeal were appropriate procedures for cases in which a trial court provides a “sentencing inclination.” In this opinion, the Supreme Court discussed procedures trial judges should follow before providing sentencing inclinations. Further, the court prospectively held that if a defendant pleads guilty or no contest in response to a court’s sentencing inclination and the court subsequently decides not to follow the inclination, the court must provide the defendant with the opportunity to affirm or withdraw the plea of guilty or no contest. Here, the Supreme Court affirmed the intermediate court of appeals’ judgment affirming the circuit court’s decision to deny Defendant’s motion to reconsider his sentence, holding that because Defendant voluntarily and knowingly entered his plea after acknowledging the non-binding nature of the circuit court’s sentencing inclination, and because the circuit court provided sufficient reasons for its deviation from the original sentencing inclination, Defendant was not entitled to be resentenced pursuant to the court’s original sentencing inclination. View "State v. Sanney" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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In this arbitrability dispute, the Supreme Court reversed the portion of the intermediate court of appeals’ (ICA) order denying Petitioners’ request for appellate attorneys’ fees and affirmed the portions of the ICA’s order granting Petitioners’ request for appellate costs and denying Petitioners’ request for fees and costs incurred in the circuit court without prejudice. The court held (1) for purposes of Haw. Rev. Stat. 607-14, the appeal of the arbitrability issue is a separate action from the underlying dispute on the merits; (2) Petitioners prevailed in the arbitrability action and were therefore entitled to reasonable attorneys’ fees under section 607-14 and a fee-shifting provision in a purchase agreement; and (3) as to Petitioners’ request for an order stating that they were entitled to attorneys’ fees and costs incurred in proceedings before the circuit court and in arbitration, the circuit court properly denied without prejudice to Petitioners’ right to request fees and costs from the circuit court. View "Charles v. Kapalua Bay, LLC " on Justia Law

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Commercial aquarium collection pursuant to permits issued under Haw. Rev. Stat. 188-31 and the Department of Land and Natural Resource’s (DLNR) administrative rules is subject to the environmental review procedures provided in the Hawaii Environmental Policy Act (HEPA). The circuit court determined that, as a matter of law, aquarium collection is not an applicant “action” that triggers HEPA. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the judgments of the lower courts with respect to commercial aquarium collection permits, holding that aquarium collection pursuant to commercial and recreational permits issued by DLNR is a HEPA “action” and thus subject to HEPA environmental review. The court remanded this case to the circuit court for further proceedings to resolve the issue of whether recreational aquarium collection under section 188-31 and DLNR’s administrative rules is also subject to HEPA. View "Umberger v. Department of Land & Natural Resources" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the portion of the intermediate court of appeals’ (ICA) judgment denying without prejudice Philip Kozma’s request for attorneys’ fees related to his appeal but vacated the portion of the ICA’s judgment denying costs. The appeal was related to a foreclosure action brought by Deutsche Bank National Trust Company. The circuit court granted Deutsche Bank’s motion for summary judgment and decree of foreclosure. On appeal, the ICA vacated the circuit court’s judgment and remanded for further proceedings. Upon Kozma’s request seeking attorney’s fees and costs related to his appeal, the ICA determined that Kozma was not a “prevailing party’ at this point in the proceeding. The Supreme Court held (1) the ICA did not err in denying Kozma’s request for attorney’s fees because there was no “prevailing party” entitled to such fees under Haw. Rev. Sat. 607-14; but (2) the ICA incorrectly concluded that Kozma was not entitled to costs pursuant to Haw. R. App. P. 39. View "Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. v. Kozma" on Justia Law

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Under Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) 641-11, a defendant may appeal from an order of the circuit court dismissing the proceedings without prejudice. After the circuit court dismissed defendant's case without prejudice due to pretrial delay pursuant to Hawai'i Rules of Penal Procedure Rule 48, defendant appealed. Defendant argued that the circuit court erred in dismissing the case without prejudice, thereby permitting reprosecution of the charges. In light of HRS 641-11, the Supreme Court of Hawai'i remanded to the ICA for resolution of defendant's appellate claim. View "Hawai'i v. Nicol" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court of Hawaii affirmed defendant's conviction for sexually assaulting his minor daughter. The court held that the family court did not abuse its discretion in admitting most of the testimony of the State's expert witness because the testimony helped explain the interaction between the minor and defendant, and its probative value outweighed its prejudicial effect. The court also held that, although the statistical evidence should not have been admitted, that error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. View "State v. McDonnell" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The circuit court and the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) did not err in determining that the State obtained an easement over and across the cement path atop a seawall (the Seawall) by common law implied dedication. For approximately sixty-five years, residents and visitors of O’ahu have walked along the Seawall on or near seaward boundaries of certain property to access the beach, shoreline, and ocean. After the State disclaimed any duty to maintain the Seawall, Plaintiffs commenced this lawsuit to require the State to maintain and keep the Seawall in good and safe condition. The circuit court ruled that the State had obtained an easement for public use over and across the seawall by virtue of common law implied dedication. The ICA affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed in light of Hawaii’s long-standing principles of common law, the historical significance and roots of implied dedication in the jurisdiction as evidenced by nearly 150 years of Supreme Court precedent, and the undisputed evidence in this case. View "Gold Coast Neighborhood Ass’n v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirming Defendant’s conviction for the offense of operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant. On appeal, Defendant argued that the ICA erred in concluding that the State laid a sufficient foundation to introduce the results of Defendant’s blood alcohol test results. The Supreme Court held that the trial court did not err in admitting Defendant’s blood test results because the State met the burden laid out in State v. Werle, 218 P.3d 762 (Haw. 2009) and State v. Montalbo, 828 P.2d 1274 (Haw. 1992) to establish a sufficient foundation to introduce the blood test results. View "State v. Villena" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Under the facts of this case, the doctrine of sovereign immunity did not protect the State from an arbitrator’s award of prejudgment interest. This case arose from Grievant’s termination from her job as a public school teacher. The Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) filed a grievance on Grievant’s behalf, and an arbitration hearing was held pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement between HSTA and the Hawaii State Department of Education (State). The arbitrator sustained the grievance and ordered that Grievant be restored to her former position. The arbitrator also determined that Grievant was entitled to interest on unpaid backpay. Before the circuit court, the State argued that Grievance was not entitled to the awarded interest. The circuit court vacated the portion of the award that gave Grievant prejudgment interest. The Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA) reversed the circuit court’s order vacating the prejudgment interest award, concluding that the doctrine of sovereign immunity was not implicated in this case. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the ICA did not err in concluding that the State waived its sovereign immunity in the arbitration proceedings, even as to the issue of interest. View "In re Arbitration between Hawaii State Teachers Association and State of Hawaii, Department of Education" on Justia Law

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An appeal of an order confirming sale is moot when the appellant does not post a supersedeas bond to obtain a stay of the proceedings prior to the sale of the property to a bona fide purchaser. In this case R. Onaga, Inc. (Onaga) and The Bank of New York Mellon FKA the Bank of New York (BONY) each initiated foreclosure proceedings against property once owned by Robert and Marlyn Marquez. Both entities claimed to have a first priority lien. The circuit court concluded that BONY had a first priority lien and granted summary judgment in favor of BONY. Onaga moved to stay BONY’s foreclosure proceeding, and the circuit court ordered Onaga to post a supersedeas bond in order to stay the proceedings. Onaga did not post a bond. In the meantime, Lyle and Linda Ferrara were the highest bidder at the foreclosure sale, and the circuit court confirmed the sale. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) vacated the circuit court’s grant of summary judgment. The Supreme Court reversed the ICA’s judgment and affirmed the circuit court’s judgment, holding that because Onaga failed to post a supersedeas bond as required by the circuit court, its appeal of the foreclosure proceeding was moot in light of the Ferraras’ certificate of title. View "Bank of New York Mellon v. R. Onaga, Inc." on Justia Law