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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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Plaintiffs filed a complaint against Attorney alleging that Attorney failed properly to advertise and conduct non-judicial foreclosure sales of their properties in violation of duties under Plaintiffs’ mortgages, statutory law, common law, and the consumer protection statute. The circuit court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that dismissal was appropriate where (1) the statutory requirements of former Haw. Rev. Stat. 667-5 and 776-7 do not give rise to a private right of action against a foreclosing mortgagee’s attorney; and (2) an unfair or deceptive acts or practices acts or practices claim against Attorney as the foreclosing mortgagee’s attorney was not recognized. View "Sigwart v. Office of David B. Rosen" on Justia Law

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Health insurers do not have a broad, unrestricted right of subrogation against third-party tortfeasors who cause injury to their insureds but, rather, are limited to reimbursement rights established by statute. In this personal injury case, the circuit court ruled that Haw. Rev. Stat. 663-10 and/or Haw. Rev. Stat. 431:13-103(a)(1) abrogated Hawai’i Medical Service Association’s (HMSA) contractual and common law rights in subrogation against a third-party tortfeasors responsible for injury to its insured. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) a health insurer does not have equitable subrogation rights against a third-party tortfeasor in the context of personal injures; (2) a health insurer’s subrogation and reimbursement rights are limited by section 663-10 and section 431-13:103(a)(1); (3) any contractual provision that conflicts with section 663-10 is invalid; and (4) section 663-10 takes precedence over HMSA’s subrogation rights. View "Yukumoto v. Tawarahara" 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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Defendant and his codefendant were charged with methamphetamine trafficking in the second degree. The Supreme Court reversed Defendant’s conviction, holding that the circuit court erred in instructing the jury on the offense of second-degree methamphetamine trafficking, and the error was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Specifically, the court held that the jury instruction on second-degree methamphetamine trafficking could have been reasonably understood as relieving the State of its burden to prove that the relevant state of mind applies to the “attendant circumstances” element of the charged offense. The court remanded the case to the circuit court for further proceedings. View "State v. Bovee" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal 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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The Supreme Court remanded this divorce case to the family court, holding that the family court erred in failing to identify equitable considerations that could have justified deviating from the partnership model when the divorce resulted in significant financial disparity between Husband and Wife. The family court awarded virtually all of the spouses’ property to Husband, a seventy-one-year-old retired musician and trust fund beneficiary, who was also receiving court-ordered spousal support from Wife, a fifty-six-year-old emergency room doctor. The Supreme Court further held that the family court erred by not explaining why it rejected Wife’s request to deviate from the partnership model. View "Selvage v. Moire" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Court vacated Defendant’s conviction for operating or assuming actual physical control of a vehicle with .08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath, holding that the district court erred in admitting two sworn statements by an Intoxilyzer supervisor to prove that the Intoxilyzer used to test Defendant’s breath alcohol content was in proper working order. The court held that the statements were improperly admitted under the public records exception because they contained an evaluative opinion that did not constitute a “matter observed” within the meaning of Haw. R. Evid. 803(b)(8). Therefore, the State failed to lay a sufficient foundation that the Intoxilyzer was in proper working order when the breath test was administered to Defendant. View "State v. Davis" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal 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