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The Supreme Court reiterated its holding in State v. Murray, 169 P.3d 955, 964 (2007), that a trial court must engage a defendant in an on-the-record colloquy to ensure the defendant is intelligently, knowingly, and voluntarily relinquishing the right to have all elements of a charged criminal offense proven beyond a reasonable doubt before the court may accept the defendant’s admission of an element of the crime. Further, the Court declined to establish an exception to the colloquy requirement when a stipulation is based on trial strategy or time constraints. Defendant was charged with operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant (OVUII). Defendant stipulated to the fact that her blood was drawn and that the blood test results showed a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.1056 grams of alcohol per hundred milliliters or cubic centimeters of blood. The district court found Defendant guilty of OVUII. The Supreme Court vacated Defendant’s OVUII conviction, holding that the district court plainly erred in failing to engage Defendant in an on-the-record colloquy regarding the stipulation to the blood test results, as required by Murray, and erred in accepting the stipulation as evidence proving that Defendant’s BAC was .08 or more grams of alcohol per one hundred milliliters or cubic centimeters of blood. View "State v. Ui" on Justia Law

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In the second appeal regarding this Landlord-Tenant dispute involving the eviction of Tenant from Landlord’s condominium, the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) failed adequately to address the district court’s denial of what Tenant called his “implicit counterclaim” for retaliatory eviction. In 2008, the district court issued a writ of possession to Landlord, which was executed against Tenant. The ICA vacated the district court’s ruling in part and remanded. The ICA affirmed the district court’s decision on remand except as to an award of attorney fees to Landlord. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the ICA and the district court, holding that Tenant properly raised a counterclaim of retaliatory eviction in his original answer, even though it was not denominated as such. Because the ICA on the second appeal did not determine as much, this case must be remanded to the district court with instructions to allow Tenant to proceed on the counterclaim in his original answer and to allow Landlord to assert any relevant defenses. View "Ryan v. Herzog" on Justia Law

Posted in: Landlord - Tenant

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In the second appeal regarding this Landlord-Tenant dispute involving the eviction of Tenant from Landlord’s condominium, the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) failed adequately to address the district court’s denial of what Tenant called his “implicit counterclaim” for retaliatory eviction. In 2008, the district court issued a writ of possession to Landlord, which was executed against Tenant. The ICA vacated the district court’s ruling in part and remanded. The ICA affirmed the district court’s decision on remand except as to an award of attorney fees to Landlord. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the ICA and the district court, holding that Tenant properly raised a counterclaim of retaliatory eviction in his original answer, even though it was not denominated as such. Because the ICA on the second appeal did not determine as much, this case must be remanded to the district court with instructions to allow Tenant to proceed on the counterclaim in his original answer and to allow Landlord to assert any relevant defenses. View "Ryan v. Herzog" on Justia Law

Posted in: Landlord - Tenant

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Employees may bring defamation and false light claims against their employer because the Workers’ Compensation Law’s (WCL) bar on claims for injuries incurred in the course of employment does not extend to injuries to a person’s reputation. Petitioners, employees of the County of Hawaii, brought this action against the County, certain County officials, and a private investigation company hired by the County (collectively, Defendants), alleging defamation. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Defendants, determining (1) Petitioners’ claims against the County were barred by the WCL because the alleged injury to their reputations arose through the course and scope of their employment; (2) Petitioners failed to adduce evidence raising a genuine issue of material fact that the County officials had made false statements about them; and (3) the third-party investigator had no duty towards Petitioners. The intermediate court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the summary judgment for Defendants, holding (1) whether one County official’s alleged defamatory statements were true involved a disputed question of material fact; (2) Petitioners’ defamation and false light claims against the County and the second County official in his official capacity were not barred by the WCL; and (3) licensed private investigators owe a duty of care to the subjects of their investigations. View "Nakamoto v. Kawauchi" on Justia Law

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Employees may bring defamation and false light claims against their employer because the Workers’ Compensation Law’s (WCL) bar on claims for injuries incurred in the course of employment does not extend to injuries to a person’s reputation. Petitioners, employees of the County of Hawaii, brought this action against the County, certain County officials, and a private investigation company hired by the County (collectively, Defendants), alleging defamation. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Defendants, determining (1) Petitioners’ claims against the County were barred by the WCL because the alleged injury to their reputations arose through the course and scope of their employment; (2) Petitioners failed to adduce evidence raising a genuine issue of material fact that the County officials had made false statements about them; and (3) the third-party investigator had no duty towards Petitioners. The intermediate court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the summary judgment for Defendants, holding (1) whether one County official’s alleged defamatory statements were true involved a disputed question of material fact; (2) Petitioners’ defamation and false light claims against the County and the second County official in his official capacity were not barred by the WCL; and (3) licensed private investigators owe a duty of care to the subjects of their investigations. View "Nakamoto v. Kawauchi" on Justia Law

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In January 2007, Choy rear-ended Jiminez's vehicle, pushing that vehicle forward, so that it hit the rear of a vehicle driven by Aggasid. Medeiros testified that she was helping Aggasid transport a patient to a doctor’s appointment at the time of the accident and that she began to experience pain in her back after the impact, leading to physical therapy and two surgeries. Medeiros was unable to work for more than three years. Through worker’s compensation, Medeiros received $153,949.75 in medical bill reimbursements and $105,356.62 in temporary and permanent disability benefits. Medeiros sued Choy. Medeiros unsuccessfully sought to preclude witnesses from testifying regarding the presence of an unrestrained child in Aggasid’s vehicle. Choy disputed whether Medeiros was in the course of her employment at the time of the accident and argued that she had lied to secure an unwarranted payout. The jury found that Choy was not the legal cause of her injuries. The Intermediate Court of Appeals vacated, holding that a requested jury instruction, barring consideration of Medeiros’s motive, should have been given. The Supreme Court of Hawaii affirmed and remanded for a new trial. The plaintiff’s motives for bringing suit were irrelevant to the merits of her claim and her credibility as a witness. Given the evidence adduced at trial, the jury should have been instructed as Medeiros requested. View "Medeiros v. Choy." on Justia Law

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Harrison, an owner of two commercial apartments within a mixed-use development project managed by Casa, sued, alleging she was improperly assessed for expenses that should have been charged only to residential apartment owners, related to elevators, lanai railings, drains, cable television, and pest control. The circuit court granted summary judgment in Casa’s favor, concluding that the disputed assessments were not for limited common elements exclusive to the residential apartments, but were for common elements, and were, therefore, expenses for which Harrison must pay her pro rata share. The circuit court further concluded Harrison was estopped from disputing the expenses because she knew or should have known that Casa had been assessing her for the disputed items for quite some time. The Supreme Court of Hawaii vacated and remanded. Citing the Restated Declaration of Horizontal Property Regime and Hawaii Revised Statutes Chapter 514A and the declaration of condominium ownership, the court held that the elevators and lanai railings are limited common elements and that genuine issues of material fact exist as to whether the drains and cable television wires are common elements. Harrison is not responsible for expenses of limited common elements. The court rejected the claim of estoppel. View "Harrison v. Casa De Emdeko, Inc." on Justia Law

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Haw. R. Civ. P. 56O(e) does not preclude an affidavit from being self-serving, nor does it require an affidavit to be corroborated by independent evidence. Further, an affidavit is conclusory if it expresses a conclusion without stating the underlying facts or reaches a conclusion that is not reasonably drawn from the underlying facts. In this case involving a claim brought by an employee against her former employer alleging that she was terminated on the basis of her gender, the Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the employer, holding that the circuit court (1) erred in rejecting the employee’s declarations as uncorroborated, self-serving, and conclusory; (2) erred in striking a declaration submitted by an employee in opposition that complied with the circuit court’s order allowing supplemental briefing; and (3) erred in granting summary judgment because there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the employer’s proffered reasons for the employee’s termination were based on pretext. View "Nozawa v. Operating Engineers Local Union No. 3" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated Defendant’s conviction for operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant, holding that the record did not support a conclusion that Defendant’s waiver of the right to testify at trial was voluntarily, intelligently, and knowingly made, and the error was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. The intermediate court of appeals affirmed the conviction, concluding that the district court’s end-of-trial Tachibana colloquy was adequate and that Defendant’s waiver of the right to testify was validly made. The Supreme Court vacated the lower courts’ judgments and remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings, holding (1) the Tachibana colloquy was deficient where the district court did not engage in a true colloquy with Defendant to ascertain her understanding of the stated constitutional principles and to ensure that Defendant’s decision not to testify was made with an understanding of these principles; and (2) the error was not harmless. View "State v. Celestine" on Justia Law

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The circuit court erred in failing to continue trial because of the unavailability of a defense witness. Defendant was found guilty of second degree robbery. On the first day of his trial, defendant moved to continue because the police officer who had arrested him and spoken with him shortly after the alleged robbery was unavailable to testify. The circuit court denied the motion. Following closing arguments, Defendant filed a motion for mistrial, which the circuit court denied. After he was found guilty, Defendant moved for a new trial, which the circuit court denied. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the circuit court erred in denying Defendant’s motion because the police officer’s testimony was relevant and material testimony that benefitted Defendant; and (2) accordingly, Defendant’s right to compulsory process to obtain witnesses in his favor was violated. View "State v. Williander" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law