Articles Posted in Constitutional 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

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At issue in this case was the question that the Supreme Court left open in State v. Mainaaupo, 178 P.3d 1 (Haw. 2008): whether the right to remain silent attaches rearrest and, if so, in what manner and to what extent may prearrest silence be used by the State in a criminal trial. The Supreme Court held (1) the right to remain silent under Haw. Const. art. I, section 10 attaches at least at the point at which a person has been seized; (2) evidence regarding a defendant’s exercise of the right to remain silent may not be used as substantive evidence of guilt, and the State may not elicit evidence of prearrest silence to imply Defendant’s guilt or introduce evidence whose character suggests to the fact-finder that the defendant’s prearrest silence is inferential evidence of the defendant’s guilt. Because Defendant’s prearrest silence in this case was introduced into evidence as substantive proof of Defendant’s guilt and the error was not harmless, the case must be remanded for a new trial. View "State v. Tsujimura" on Justia Law

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The circuit court excluded three statements that Defendant made to the police, concluding that the first and second statements were unlawfully elicited from Defendant because they were obtained prior to the police apprising Defendant of his Miranda right. The court concluded that the third statement, obtained from Defendant when he invoked his right to counsel while being given Miranda warnings, was a product of the two earlier illegally obtained statements. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) vacated the circuit court’s ruling as to the second and third statements. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA’s judgment on appeal and affirmed the circuit court’s order suppressing the statements, holding that the second statement was inadmissible into evidence because it was the product of pre-Miranda custodial interrogation and that the third statement was the fruit of the first and second statements. View "State v. Trinque" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the District Court of the Fifth Circuit finding Defendant guilty of simple trespass and harassment, holding that the record on appeal did not indicate a valid waiver of counsel. Defendant elected to proceed pro se at trial. On appeal, the Supreme Court engaged in a plain error to review to determine whether Defendant’s constitutional right to counsel may have been affected during the proceedings below. The court held that, based on the totality of the circumstances in this case, there was no valid waiver of counsel under the test set forth in State v. Phua. View "State v. Erum " on Justia Law

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Court had discretion to permit government-condemnor to withdraw a portion of deposit of estimated just compensation. Three parcels of privately-owned property were condemned for a public park. In the owner’s appeal, the Supreme Court of Hawaii held that the presence or lack of physical unity is not dispositive of whether a condemnee is entitled to severance damages. A deposit of estimated just compensation does not become conditional, and blight of summons damages do not begin to accrue, when a condemning authority objects to a condemnee’s motion to withdraw funds based on the fact that the condemnee’s entitlement to such funds is unclear. The court in an eminent domain proceeding has discretion to permit a governmental entity to withdraw a portion of a deposit of estimated just compensation when the deposit has not been disbursed to the landowner, the government acted in good faith in seeking to adjust the estimate to accurately reflect the value of the property on the date of the summons, and the adjustment will not impair the substantial rights of any party in interest. View "County of Kauai v. Hanalei River Holdings Limited" on Justia Law

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An anticipatory search warrant must, on its face, identify the triggering condition on the face of the warrant to be valid. Petitioners were charged with drug offenses based on evidence seized in a search conducted pursuant to an anticipatory search warrant. The circuit court denied Petitioners’ motion to suppress the evidence, and the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA's judgment and the circuit court’s denial of Petitioners’ motion to suppress, holding that, in light of this opinion, the search warrant was unlawful. The court remanded the case to the circuit court for further proceedings. View "State v. Curtis" on Justia Law

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This appeal was the most recent development in litigation concerning the ownership and control of the Marn family business. Alexander Marn sought a declaratory judgment and specific performance regarding his rights to the business. Despite a jury demand, the circuit court held a bench trial. Thereafter, the circuit court entered partial final judgment against Alexander. The Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA) affirmed, concluding that the circuit court did not err in conducting a bench trial instead of a jury trial. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA’s judgment on appeal, holding that the ICA gravely erred in affirming the circuit court’s decision to conduct a bench trial, as Alexander was entitled to a jury trial on his declaratory judgment action, and a jury trial was properly demanded and preserved. Remanded. View "In re Marn Family Litigation" on Justia Law