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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

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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