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Aerial surveillance of the curtilage of a private residence conducted for the purposes of detecting criminal activity thereupon qualifies as a “search” within the meaning of Haw. Const. art. I, 7. In this case, three helicopter flyovers of Defendant’s residence led to a police officer’s naked eye observation of two rows of potted marijuana plants growing in the curtilage of Defendant’s house. Defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing that the aerial search violated his reasonable expectation of privacy. The circuit court denied the motion to suppress. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) vacated the circuit court’s order denying Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence, concluding that the circuit court erred in concluding that Defendant did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the area surrounding his house from aerial surveillance. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the police officer conducted unconstitutional, warrantless searches in contravention of Defendant’s rights under Haw. Const. art. I, 7; and (2) therefore, the evidence obtained during the execution of the search warrant, which was based on the officer’s observations during his aerial reconnaissance missions, was the fruit of the poisonous tree. View "State v. Quiday" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court here provided guidance as to when circumstances are compelling for purposes of denying a defendant’s motion for release from custody when the defendant is held for a period of more than two days after initial appearance without commencement of a preliminary hearing. See Hawaii Rules of Penal Procedure 5(c)(3). Petitioners Si Ufaga Moana and Jayvan C. Curioso each sought a writ of mandamus directing the Honorable Frances Q.F. Wong and Jayvan C. Curioso, respectively, to order their release from custody in accordance with the requirement that a defendant be released upon motion if a preliminary hearing has not commenced within two days of the defendant’s initial appearance. The Supreme Court denied the petitions as moot because the State respectively charged Petitioners by information and grand jury indictment during the pendency of these petitions, obviating the need for preliminary hearings. However, the court considered the legal issues raised by these cases because they were capable of repetition but would otherwise evade review. View "Moana v. Wong" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) on appeal affirming the circuit court’s order denying International Fidelity Insurance Company’s renewed motion to set aside judgment or for clarification of judgment. Ida Peppers of Freedom Bail Bonds signed a bail bond as the surety on a bond. An attached power of attorney gave Peppers authority to oblige International to insure the bond, but International’s name was not present on the bond, and Pepper’s signature did not indicate that she had signed as an agent for International. When the criminal defendant did not appear, the circuit court entered a judgment and order of forfeiture of bail bond. Several months after providing notice to Peppers of the written judgment, the State provided written notice directly to International. Concluding that the holdings in State v. Nelson, 398 P.3d 712 (Haw. 2017), were dispositive in this case, the Supreme Court held (1) the State complied with Haw. Rev. Stat. 804-51 when it timely provided notice to Peppers; (2) International’s procedural due process rights were not violated; and (3) the judgment against Peppers remained enforceable. View "State v. Vaimili " on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the intermediate court of appeals rejecting Defendant’s contention that the district court abused its discretion in not dismissing with prejudice the charges against Petitioner based upon a violation of Haw. R. Pen. P. 48. The district court dismissed the charges against Petitioner without prejudice. Before the Supreme Court, Petitioner argued that the charges were not serious as a matter of law and that the State should have been precluded from reinstituting prosecution. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the lower courts, holding that, based on the record in this case, and in light of the applicable principles that guide a court in the exercise of its discretion, the district court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing the charges against Defendant without prejudice. View "State v. Fukuoka" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The County of Maui’s land use regulations did not constitute a regulatory taking of property owned by Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs brought suit against the County arguing that the County’s land use regulations and restrictions prevented them from building a family house on their beachfront lot. Plaintiffs asserted that the County’s actions constituted a regulatory taking for which they were entitled to just compensation. The jury delivered a verdict in favor of the County. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was evidence to support the jury’s verdict in favor of the County; and (2) the circuit court’s order granting in part and denying in part the County’s motion for costs was not in error. View "Leone v. County of Maui" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court prospectively held that when a party to a circuit court civil case timely appeals a purportedly appealable final judgment that is later determined not to meet the appealability requirements of Jenkins v. Cades Schutte Fleming & Wright, 869 P.2d 1334, 1335 (Haw. 1994), rather than dismiss the appeal, the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) must temporarily remand the case to the circuit court for entry of an appealable final judgment and directions to supplement the record on appeal with the final judgment. The Supreme Court held that the ICA did not err in dismissing Defendant’s appeal for lack of jurisdiction on the grounds that Defendant’s third notice of appeal was untimely and because the Supreme Court lacked jurisdiction to review the dismissal of Defendant’s second notice of appeal because she did not seek certiorari review of that dismissal. Although the court lacked jurisdiction over this case, the dismissal of Defendant’s second notice of appeal and the circumstances of the case led to the court’s reexamination of its previous mandate that appeals be dismissed when a purported circuit court final judgment fails to meet appealability requirements. View "State v. Joshua" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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In this case raising two questions concerning Hawaii law of workers’ compensation as it relates to permanent partial disability (PPD) awards, the Supreme Court held (1) a PPD award for an unscheduled injury that is not comparable to a scheduled injury must be supported by some factual finding of a determinate percentage of impairment of a physical or mental function of the whole person; and (2) a PPD determination may be based on a claimant’s post-injury inability to perform the usual and customary work activities in the position the claimant occupied prior to the injury. In the instant case, the Labor and Industrial Relations Appeals Board (LIRAB) awarded Employee $250 in PPD benefits. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) vacated LIRAB’s ruling and remanded for a determination of whether Employee had suffered a permanent impairment and, if so, the percentage of the impairment and the award of PPD benefits based on that percentage. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated the Board’s $250 lump sum award and remanded to LIRAB for it to determine the relevant percentage of Employee’s impairment, as well as an award of PPD benefits based on that percentage. View "Ihara v. State" on Justia Law

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After a joint trial, the jury found Lawrence Bruce guilty of promoting prostitution in the second degree and found Justin McKinley guilty of promoting prostitution in the first degree. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) vacated Bruce’s and McKinley’s convictions and remanded their cases for new trials, concluding that one of the prosecutor’s comments during rebuttal closing argument constituted misconduct and that the misconduct was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. The Supreme Court reversed the ICA’s judgment, holding that the prosecutor’s comments, when properly analyzed in context, were not improper because they were relevant to the fundamental issues at trial. View "State v. Bruce" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted Petitioners’ request for costs but denied their request for an award of attorney’s fees in their action against the State of Hawaii and the State of Hawaii Department of Transportation. The Supreme Court held (1) Haw. Rev. Stat. 662-9 allows a court to award attorney’s fees only to the extent permitted under Haw. Rev. Stat. 662-12; (2) Petitioners’ request for recovery of attorney’s fees under section 662-9 and 662-12 is premature; and (3) Haw. Rev. Stat. 662-9 authorizes the award of costs against the State, and Petitioners are the prevailing parties under section 662-9. View "O’Grady v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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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