Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirming the judgment of the district court that Defendant violated Haw. Rev. Stat. 286-102(b) by operating a motor vehicle without a valid driver's license, holding that because Defendant failed to meet her burden to produce "some evidence" to support an exemption from the requirement to operate a motor vehicle with a valid Hawai'i driver's license, as set forth in Haw. Rev. Stat. 286-105, the burden did not shift to the State. Defendant argued on appeal that the State bore the burden to prove that Defendant did not possess a valid driver's license issued by Canada or a valid commercial driver's license issued by Canada or Mexico, which would have exempted her from the requirement to operate a motor vehicle with a valid Hawai'i driver's license. The ICA disagreed and affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant bore the burden to produce evidence that she possessed a valid driver’s license in Canada or a valid commercial driver’s license in Canada or Mexico before the burden shifted to the State to prove that she did not have a driver’s license that qualified as an exemption. View "State v. Castillon" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) on appeal and the circuit court's order granting summary judgment against Plaintiff on the basis of his failure to timely respond to Defendant's request for admissions, holding that the trial court abused its discretion by denying withdrawal of Plaintiff's admissions and, absent the admissions, there were genuine issues of material fact precluding summary judgment against Plaintiff. Plaintiff's claims were dismissed based on his alleged failure timely to respond to a request for admissions, even where he had requested that the trial court provide him with an interpreter to help answer the requests. Plaintiff was denied the opportunity to exercise his right to a jury trial on the basis of his alleged failure to respond to a request for admissions that asked him to concede he had no claim. The ICA affirmed. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that his request for an interpreter should have been construed as a request to withdraw the admissions and file a late response. The Supreme Court agreed and reversed, holding that Plaintiff's request to obtain an interpreter should have been considered a motion to withdraw his admissions and continue the hearing on the motion for summary judgment. View "Villaver v. Sylva" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court vacated Defendant's convictions and remanded this case to the circuit court for further proceedings, holding that multiple instances of improper prosecutorial conduct cumulatively jeopardized Defendant's right to a fair trial. Defendant was convicted of murder in the second degree and carrying or use of a firearm in the commission of a separate felony. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirmed. Defendant appealed, arguing, among other things, that the circuit court erred in denying his motions for mistrial and motion for a new trial due to prosecutorial misconduct. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that the cumulative effect of the prosecutor's improper conduct was so prejudicial as to jeopardize Defendant's right a fair trial. View "State v. Pasene" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirming the district court's judgment finding Defendant guilty of obstructing a highway or public passage after Defendant appeared pro se before the court, holding that the record on appeal did not indicate a valid waiver of counsel. At Defendant's plea hearing Defendant signed a form waiving his right to counsel. The court engaged in a colloquy with Defendant. Thereafter, the district court found Defendant guilty as charged. The ICA affirmed the district court's judgment. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA's judgment on appeal and the district court's judgment, holding that, under the circumstances of this case, Defendant did not provide an intelligent and knowing waiver of his right to counsel. View "State v. Fujiyoshi" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions, holding that trial courts must engage the defendant in an on-the-record colloquy regarding the right to testify and right not to testify when either right is waived, effectively making such a colloquy necessary in every trial. The Court further held that this requirement will be effective in trials beginning after the filing date of this opinion. Before this opinion, court procedures required that a trial court engage a defendant in an on-the-record colloquy only when the defendant waived the right to testify but not when the defendant waived the reciprocal right not to testify. Defendant in this case argued that the circuit court erred by failing to advise him of his right not to testify before trial. The intermediate court of appeals concluded that Defendant was not prejudiced by the lack of a pretrial advisement. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant voluntarily waived the right to a jury trial; (2) the circuit court erred by failing to give a pretrial advisement, but the lack of a pretrial advisement was harmless error; and (3) prospectively, a colloquy pursuant to Tachibana v. State, 900 P.2d 1293, 1304 (Haw. 1995), must be given in all trials. View "State v. Torres" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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In this criminal case, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA) rejecting the State's confession of error that insufficient foundation was laid for the admission into evidence of the results of a field sobriety test known as the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test, holding that the admission of the HGN evidence did not rise to plain error. The confession of error also conceded that, absent the results of the HGN test, insufficient evidence supported Defendant's conviction of operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant. The ICA rejected the confession of error based on its erroneous conclusion that the failure of Defendant's trial counsel to object to the admission of the results of the HGN test automatically disqualified it from appellate consideration as plain error. The Supreme Court affirmed on other grounds, holding that the ICA failed to apply the property standard in determining whether the State's confession of error should be accepted, holding that, in light of the evidentiary record, the admission into evidence of the HGN test results was not plain error. View "State v. Arkin " on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) reinstating certain criminal charges dismissed by the circuit court based on the statute of limitations, holding that there were questions of fact regarding the statute of limitations applicable to those counts that must be determined by the factfinder, and therefore, the circuit court erred by dismissing those charges. The circuit court dismissed all six counts of theft filed against Defendant on the grounds that the felony information was filed after any extension of the three-year statute of limitations based on Haw. Rev. Stat. 701-108(3)(a) had expired. The ICA reinstated three of those counts. The Supreme Court affirmed as further clarified by this opinion, holding (1) the ICA did not err in holding that prosecutorial discretion allowed the three counts to be charged as separate offenses, and there were questions of fact regarding the statute of limitations applicable thereto; and (2) the ICA erred in holding that the earliest date of discovery for the three counts was September 5, 2013. View "State v. Pitolo" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgments of the courts below denying Petitioner’s petition filed pursuant to Hawaii Rules of Penal Procedure (HRPP) Rule 40 to vacate, set aside, or correct his 1987 conviction for driving while under the influence of an intoxicating liquor (DUI), holding that Petitioner’s right to counsel was violated back in 1987 and that the equitable doctrine of laches does not apply to HRPP Rule 40 petitions. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirmed the district court’s decision to deny Petitioner’s Rule 40 petition based on the equitable doctrine of laches, noting that Petitioner had waited more than twenty-five years to challenge his DUI conviction and that no transcripts of any of the proceedings in Petitioner’s DUI case were available. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA's judgment on appeal, Petitioner’s 1987 conviction for DUI, and the district court’s order, holding (1) Petitioner was erroneously deprived of the right to counsel in 1987; and (2) the doctrine of laches does not apply in the context of HRPP Rule 40 petitions. View "Akau v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court vacated in part the intermediate court of appeals’ (ICA) judgment on appeal and vacated in part the circuit court’s order denying motion for correction or modification of the record filed May 18, 2015 and motion for disqualification filed September 10, 2015 and remanded the case to the circuit court for an evidentiary hearing on Appellant’s motion for correction and affirmed in part the ICA’s judgment affirming the circuit court’s order denying Appellant’s motion for disqualification. The Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court erred in denying Appellant’s motion for correction without a hearing, and the ICA erred in affirming the circuit court’s order on this claim; and (2) the ICA did not err in affirming the circuit court’s order denying Appellant’s motion for disqualification. View "State v. Chatman " on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) vacating the district court’s dismissal of Defendant’s excessive speeding citation and remanded this case for further proceedings, holding that double jeopardy is inapplicable to the civil offense of speeding under its current statutory framework and that Defendant was subject to prosecution for both excessive speeding and speeding. Defendant was concurrently cited for speeding and excessive speeding offenses while driving through two separate speed zones. The district court granted Defendant’s motion to dismiss the excessive speeding charge, concluding that the “lesser included offense” provision of Haw. Rev. Stat. 701-109(1)(a) and the double jeopardy clause barred the State from prosecuting Defendant on the excessive speeding charge. The ICA vacated the district court’s order granting the motion to dismiss, holding that the entry of judgment on Defendant’s noncriminal speeding infraction failed to bar the State from prosecuting him for the crime of excessive speeding. The Supreme Court affirmed and remanded, holding that if the district court finds at trial that the excessive speeding charge arises from the same conduct as the speeding infraction, section 701-109(1)(a) will preclude Defendant’s conviction for excessive speeding. View "State v. Kalua" on Justia Law