by
In this appeal from the denial of Petitioner’s motion for return of her personal possessions allegedly taken during the execution of a writ of ejectment after the foreclosure sale of a house in which she resided, the Supreme Court held (1) although the federal Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009 (PTFA) does not require a residential lease to be in writing, Petitioner was not entitled to PTFA protections because she did not qualify as a bona fide tenant under the PTFA; (2) generally, the landlord-tenant code applies to residential leases entered into before a lis pendens, but Petitioner was not a residential tenant; (3) Petitioner was afforded her due process rights to notice and an opportunity to be heard at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner; but (4) the circuit court erred in failing to grant Petitioner’s motion for return of possessions where the possessions included items of no financial value to the purchase of the property at foreclosure but with great sentimental value to Petitioner. View "Peak Capital Group, LLC v. Perez" on Justia Law

by
The Hawai’i Civil Rights Commission (HCRC) did not have jurisdiction under Haw. Rev. Stat. 368-1.5 over this claim that a student was subject to disability discrimination and improper denial of reasonable accommodations and modifications to take an online grade-level placement exam required of homeschooled students applying for entrance to Hawai’i Technology Academy, a public charter school. Here, the HCRC determined that it had jurisdiction over the student’s parent’s claim under section 368-1.5 regarding the denial of reasonable accommodations. The circuit court reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the legislature intended section 368-1.5 to provide the HCRC with jurisdiction over disability discrimination claims only when section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 does not apply; and (2) section 504 did apply to the HCRC complaint in this case. View "Hawai’i Technology Academy v. L.E." on Justia Law

Posted in: Education Law

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
The Supreme Court prospectively held that when a party to a circuit court civil case timely appeals a purportedly appealable final judgment that is later determined not to meet the appealability requirements of Jenkins v. Cades Schutte Fleming & Wright, 869 P.2d 1334, 1335 (Haw. 1994), rather than dismiss the appeal, the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) must temporarily remand the case to the circuit court for entry of an appealable final judgment and directions to supplement the record on appeal with the final judgment. The Supreme Court held that the ICA did not err in dismissing Defendant’s appeal for lack of jurisdiction on the grounds that Defendant’s third notice of appeal was untimely and because the Supreme Court lacked jurisdiction to review the dismissal of Defendant’s second notice of appeal because she did not seek certiorari review of that dismissal. Although the court lacked jurisdiction over this case, the dismissal of Defendant’s second notice of appeal and the circumstances of the case led to the court’s reexamination of its previous mandate that appeals be dismissed when a purported circuit court final judgment fails to meet appealability requirements. View "State v. Joshua" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

by
In this case raising two questions concerning Hawaii law of workers’ compensation as it relates to permanent partial disability (PPD) awards, the Supreme Court held (1) a PPD award for an unscheduled injury that is not comparable to a scheduled injury must be supported by some factual finding of a determinate percentage of impairment of a physical or mental function of the whole person; and (2) a PPD determination may be based on a claimant’s post-injury inability to perform the usual and customary work activities in the position the claimant occupied prior to the injury. In the instant case, the Labor and Industrial Relations Appeals Board (LIRAB) awarded Employee $250 in PPD benefits. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) vacated LIRAB’s ruling and remanded for a determination of whether Employee had suffered a permanent impairment and, if so, the percentage of the impairment and the award of PPD benefits based on that percentage. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated the Board’s $250 lump sum award and remanded to LIRAB for it to determine the relevant percentage of Employee’s impairment, as well as an award of PPD benefits based on that percentage. View "Ihara v. State" on Justia Law

by
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