Articles 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

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The Supreme Court vacated Defendant’s conviction and remanded this case to the district court, holding that Defendant’s right of allocution was violated when the district court did not afford him the opportunity to be heard prior to sentencing and that the district court committed plain error in accepting Defendant’s no contest plea without an on-the-record colloquy. Defendant’s no contest plea and sentence both occurred after the trial court found that Defendant had waived his presence at the court proceeding by the filing of a document signed by Defendant and a declaration by defense counsel. The Supreme Court vacated Defendant’s conviction of harassment stalking and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding (1) Defendant’s challenge to his sentence was not precluded by his plea of no contest; (2) Defendant’s right of allocution guaranteed both by the Hawaii Revised Statutes and the Hawaii Constitution, was violated; and (3) the district court’s acceptance of Defendant’s no contest plea without an on-the-record colloquy was plain error, and because the district court failed to ascertain whether Defendant’s no contest plea was made knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily, the omission affected Defendant’s substantial rights. View "State v. Hernandez" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA) and the district court’s notice of entry of judgment convicting Defendant of operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant (OVUII) and remanded this case to the district court, holding that the district court erred in admitting an officer’s testimony regarding Defendant’s field sobriety test over defense objection without requiring the property evidentiary foundation. The officer reviewed his report for the second time after already reviewing his report once to answer the prosecutor’s questions about the standardized field sobriety test. Over defense objection, the district court allowed the testimony as refreshed memory without a foundation having been laid that the officer’s memory had been refreshed by reviewing the report. The ICA affirmed, concluding that no legal authority requires the laying of such a foundation. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that legal authority requires that before testimony is admitted pursuant to Haw. R. Evid. 612 after a witness reviews a writing while testifying for the purpose of refreshing memory, an evidentiary foundation must be laid establishing that the witness’s memory has actually been refreshed. The ICA erred in holding otherwise, and the error was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. View "State v. Wakamoto" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the intermediate court of appeals’ (ICA) affirming the circuit court’s “Order Denying Application of Surety Providing Good Cause as to Why Execution Should Not Issue as to Judgment of Forfeiture,” holding that the circuit court erred as a matter of law. Defendant Joselyn Punion made an oral motion to set aside the bail bond forfeiture. The circuit court denied the motion, requiring a written motion to set aside the bail bond forfeiture and required the motion be filed by J & J Bail Bonds. The Supreme Court held that the circuit court erred as a matter of law when it did not consider Defendant’s motion and instead required that the surety file the motion and remanded this matter to the circuit court to consider Defendant’s motion to set aside the bail bond forfeiture. View "State v. Punio " on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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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 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