Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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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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The Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA) gravely erred in holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by allowing the State to present testimony in rebuttal that went beyond the limited scope permitted by the trial court and introduced evidence of defendant's uncooperative behavior with the police. The Hawaii Supreme Court held that the State's rebuttal testimony was improper because it exceeded the limited scope of testimony permitted by the court, and the introduction of the improper rebuttal testimony was not harmless error. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded for a new trial. View "State v. David" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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In this interlocutory appeal, the Supreme Court affirmed the orders of the circuit court denying Defendant’s motions to dismiss with prejudice the charges against him. Defendant was charged with murder in the second degree. The first trial ended in a mistrial. The jury at the second trial acquitted Defendant of second-degree murder but deadlocked on all of the included offenses. The circuit court concluded that Defendant could be retried on the included offenses. Defendant then filed these motions to dismiss seeking to preclude a third trial based on federal and state constitutional grounds, state statutory provisions, and the inherent power of the trial court. The circuit court denied the motions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant’s arguments in favor of dismissal were ultimately without merit. View "State v. Deedy" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal 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 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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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