Articles Posted in Civil Rights

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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 was voluntarily, intelligently, and knowingly made. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court was required to engage him in a colloquy prior to accepting his waiver of the right to testify and that the colloquy was incomplete and defective because the court did not advise him that if he wanted to testify no one could prevent him from doing so. The intermediate court of appeals affirmed the district court’s judgment. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the colloquy was inadequate because the district court did not advise Defendant that no one could prevent him from testifying, and the error was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. View "State v. Eduwensuyi" on Justia Law

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There is a constitutional right of the public to film the official activities of police officers in a public place. Defendant was arrested for interfering with government operations and other offenses while filming with his cell phone police officers conducting a traffic enforcement operation. Defendant was charged with failing to comply with a lawful order of a police officer, an offense for which he had not been arrested. The district court dismissed both charges for lack of probable cause. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) vacated the district court’s order of dismissal and remanded the case, concluding that the district court erred in dismissing the charge of failure to comply with a lawful order of a police officer because probable cause existed to support the charge. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA’s judgment and affirmed the district court’s judgment, holding (1) the record did not support a finding of probable cause that Defendant failed to comply with a police officer’s order; and (2) this court need not address whether Defendant’s constitutional right to access and film the traffic stop was infringed in this case. View "State v. Russo" on Justia Law

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The post-conviction petition filed in this case raised colorable claims for relief where Petitioner alleged that his stated desire to appeal the order dismissing his case without prejudice was not effectuated by his trial counsel and that his counsel wholly abandoned him following the court’s oral ruling of dismissal. This case involved the circuit court’s denial of Petitioner’s petition for post-conviction relief filed pursuant to Haw. R. Penal P. 40 without a hearing. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA’s judgment on appeal and the circuit court’s order denying the petition and remanded the case for a Rule 40 evidentiary hearing, holding that Petitioner presented colorable claims for post-conviction relief based on grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel and abandonment of representation by defense counsel. View "Maddox v. State" on Justia Law

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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 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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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 circuit court erred when it restricted Defendant during his criminal trial in deciding whether and when in the course of presenting his defense he should take the stand, in violation of his constitutional privilege against self-incrimination, his constitutional right to the assistance of counsel, and his right to due process of law. Although the trial was anticipated to last up to six days, the State rested its case-in-chief in the early afternoon on the first day of the evidentiary portion of the trial. Over defense counsel’s objection, the circuit court ordered Defendant to take the stand that day or forfeit his right to testify entirely. Consequently, Defendant took the stand and testified before the other witnesses in the defense’s case. The Supreme Court vacated the circuit court’s judgment and remanded the case for a new trial, holding that the circuit court erred and that the error was not subject to harmless error review. View "State v. Loher" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of criminal trespassing in the first degree, terroristic threatening in the second degree, and assault in the third degree. Defendant appealed, arguing that the circuit court influenced his decision not to testify by intimidating him through the trial. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirmed, concluding that the circuit court adequately advised Defendant of his rights and obtained a valid waiver of his right to testify. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the record was insufficient to support a conclusion that Defendant’s waiver of the right to testify was voluntarily, intelligently, and knowingly made. View "State v. Kim" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) vacating Defendant’s conviction for operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant (OVUII) in violation of Haw. Rev. Stat. 291E-61(a)(1), reversing Defendant’s conviction for OVUII in violation of Haw. Rev. Stat. 291E-61(a)(3), and remanding the case for a new trial. On appeal, Defendant argued that his conviction under section 291E-61(a)(1) should be reversed rather than vacated and remanded for a new trial. The Supreme Court disagreed and held (1) the ICA did not err in concluding that the charge was not fatally defective for failing to include the statutory definition of the term “alcohol” and in concluding that there was substantial evidence to support Defendant’s conviction under section 291E-61(a)(1); and (2) the district court’s admonishment of Defendant for his decision to pursue trial may have violated his constitutional rights to due process and against self-incrimination. View "State v. Nakamitsu" on Justia Law

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The circuit court deprived Defendant of his right to confront and cross-examine the complaining witness (CW) as to her bias and motive by limiting the CW’s testimony on the subject of Defendant’s immigration status and whether the CW knew that Defendant could face deportation if he was arrested. Defendant was found guilty of terroristic threatening in the first degree. The offense arose from a domestic dispute between Defendant and his ex-girlfriend, the CW. The intermediate court of appeals affirmed the judgment of conviction. Defendant filed an application for writ of certiorari, challenging the circuit court’s decision to limit the CW’s testimony on cross-examination. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of conviction and probation sentence and remanded the case to the circuit court for a new trial. View "State v. Acacio" on Justia Law