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The Supreme Court vacated the intermediate court of appeals’ (ICA) judgment on appeal and remanded to the circuit court to hold a Hawai’i Rules of Penal Procedure (HRPP) Rule 40 evidentiary hearing on Petitioner’s claim that counsel were ineffective for failing to challenge the sufficiency of Petitioner’s indictment, holding that Petitioner presented facts that, if true, asserted a colorable claim that his trial and/or appellate counsel was ineffective. Petitioner was indicted and charged with continuous sexual assault of a minor under the age of fourteen years, among other offenses. Petitioner later filed a second HRPP Rule 40 petition and supplemental claims petition arguing that both trial and appellate counsel were ineffective. The circuit court denied the supplemental claims petition without a hearing. The ICA affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA’s judgment and remanded the case, holding that Petitioner was entitled to a HRPP Rule 40 evidentiary hearing on two counts of his supplemental claims petition. View "Rita v. State " on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirming judgment in favor of Defendants, holding that Plaintiff was subjected to unlawful pretrial punishment when he was held in solitary confinement by State of Hawai’i prison officials for more than nine months following his arrest, in violation of his constitutional due process rights, but defendant Petra Cho was entitled to qualified immunity under federal and state qualified immunity principles for her part in Defendant’s confinement. Plaintiff requested monetary damages pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983 and state tort law. The circuit court entered judgment in favor of the State and Cho. The ICA affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff’s placement in solitary confinement for more than nine months constituted unlawful pretrial punishment; (2) while the circuit court applied an incorrect standard for federal qualified immunity, Cho was not liable for damages for the federal constitutional violation; (3) the circuit court did not err by concluding that Cho had no negligence liability based on state qualified immunity principles; and (4) the State was not liable for damages for the state constitutional violation. View "Gordon v. Maesaka-Hirata" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) authorizing issuance of a Conservation District Use permit (CDUP) for a Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) near the summit of Mauna Kea, holding that the BLNR property applied the law in analyzing whether the permit should be issued for the TMT. Appellants, Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners, argued that Mauna Kea, as a sacred manifestation of their ancestors, was desecrated by development of astronomy facilities near its summit. The BLNR authorized issuance of the CDUP of the TMT after Third Circuit judge Riki May Amano conducted a contested case hearing over forty-four days. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the BLNR did not err by refusing to disqualify Amano as the hearing officer, and certain Deputy Attorneys General; (2) the TMT project does not violate religious exercise rights of Native Hawaiians protected by federal statutes; (3) the TMT project does not violate public trust principles, and the conditions of Hawai’i Administrative Rules 13-5-30(c) for issuance of a CDUP were satisfied; and (4) the proceeding was legitimate. View "In re Contested Case Hearing re Conservation District Use Application" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) vacating the district court’s order dismissing with prejudice Petitioners’ charges of one count of prostitution under Haw. Rev. Stat. 712-1200(1)(b) based on State v. Modica, 567 P.2d 420 (1977), holding that the ICA erred in determining that Petitioners’ due process and equal protection rights had not been violated. In their motions to dismiss, Petitioners argued that sections 712-1200(1)(a) and (1)(b) prohibited the same conduct but that subsection (1)(b) barred a harsher penalty and that, pursuant to Modica, where two crimes prohibit the same conduct, to convict them of the crime carrying the harsher penalty would violate their due process and equal protection rights. The district court agreed and dismissed the charges. The ICA disagreed, concluding that subsections (1)(a) and (1)(b) prohibited different conduct, and therefore, the district court erred in finding a Modica violation. The Supreme Court disagreed with the ICA and remanded these cases for further proceedings, holding that, based on the plain language of sections 712-1200(1)(a) and (1)(b), as they existed at the time Petitioners were charged, Petitioners’ charges violated the Modica rule. View "State v. Sasai" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court expressly rejected the Twombly/Iqbal “plausibility” pleading standard in this case and reaffirmed that in Hawai’i state courts, the traditional “notice” pleading standard governs. On the first appeal before the Supreme Court, the Court vacated a foreclosure decree based on issues of fact regarding whether Bank of America, N.A. held the note at the time the foreclosure lawsuit was filed. The Court remanded the case to the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) for a determination of whether the circuit court erred by dismissing the homeowner’s counterclaim before granting summary judgment for foreclosure in favor of Bank of America. On remand, the ICA upheld the dismissal of three counts, including a wrongful foreclosure count, in the homeowner’s counterclaim. The homeowner appealed, arguing that the ICA applied the wrong pleading standard. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA’s judgment on appeal, holding (1) a pleading must meet the traditional “notice” standard to overcome a Haw. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss; and (2) a party may bring a claim for wrongful foreclosure before the foreclosure actually occurs. View "Bank of America, N.A. v. Reyes-Toledo" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether the time to file a motion to vacate an arbitration award is limited by the opposing party’s filing of a motion to confirm and how an order denying a motion to vacate an arbitration award can properly be appealed. After receiving notice of an arbitrator’s award in their favor, Plaintiffs filed a motion to confirm the award. Before the ninety-day period in which Defendants could file a motion to vacate the award had expired, the circuit court granted Plaintiffs’ motion to confirm. Defendants, then moved to vacate the award within the ninety-day period. The circuit court denied the motion to vacate. Defendants appealed the judgment of confirmation and the order denying the motion to vacate. The ICA dismissed the appeal. Thereafter, the circuit court amended its order to “again confirm” the award to allow Defendants to appeal. The ICA dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding that because Defendants timely appealed an order that amended the circuit court’s prior order denying their motion to vacate in a “material and substantial respect” and because Defendants filed their motion to vacate within the statutory period, the ICA erred in dismissing the appeal. View "Bennett v. Chung" on Justia Law

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In this dispute over the parentage of a child, the Supreme Court held that both the Uniform Parentage Act (UPA) and Hawaii’s Marriage Equality Act demonstrate that the UPA’s marital presumption of paternity applies equally to both men and women and that Appellant did not rebut the presumption of parentage. LC sought a divorce from her wife, MG shortly after a child was born to MG through an artificial insemination procedure. LC and MG were legally married at the time of the child’s birth, but LC was not biologically related to the child. After the child’s birth, LC sought an order seeking to disestablish parentage. The family court denied the request, determining that LC was the child’s legal parent. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that LC was presumed to be the legal mother of the child and that LC did not rebut the presumption of parentage. View "LC v. MG " on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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At issue on appeal was whether a motion for sanctions may be dismissed without prejudice when the underlying facts and issues allegedly establishing the sanctionable conduct are also at issue in another pending case involving the same parties. The Supreme Court held (1) the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it dismissed the motion for sanctions without prejudice where the district court would likely need to consider many of the same factual issues that were also at play in the pending circuit court action; and (2) while the signature of a court clerk or judge is generally necessary for appellate review of a final order, the signed filings related to the order being appealed were sufficient in this case to provide appellate jurisdiction. View "Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. v. Greenspon" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgments of the Intermediate Court of Appeals and circuit court finding that Defendant was the first aggressor in a late-night confrontation and the subsequent denial of Defendant’s request to introduce evidence of the victim’s prior violent acts under Haw. R. Evid. 404 and 405 to show his violent or aggressive character. The Court (1) because a victim’s violent or aggressive behavior is an essential element of a self-defense claim for purposes of determining admissibility under Rule 405, specific instances of conduct, such as a victim’s prior violent acts, can be used as a method of proving character in such circumstances under the rule; and (2) the circuit court erred in finding no factual dispute as to who was the first aggressor, and the error was not harmless. View "State v. DeLeon" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA) concluding that the circuit court erred in granting Defendant’s motion to dismiss his charge of theft as a continuing course of conduct after concluding that Defendant could not simultaneously be charged with the theft count and five individual counts of forgery. The ICA vacated the circuit court’s order granting Defendant’s motion to dismiss, concluding that the State was not barred from charging Defendant with theft in the second degree for passing five fraudulently executed checks amounting to $720 over the course of six days as a continuing course of conduct. On appeal, Defendant argued that when the State charged him with five separate counts of forgery, it recognized the episodic nature of each act and therefore could not simultaneously charge him with theft under a continuing course of conduct theory. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that theft can be charged as a continuing course of conduct, notwithstanding a decision to charge individual counts of forgery. View "State v. Yokota" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law