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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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In this case concerning the propriety of State and local agencies withholding certain officer communications when disclosure is requested by a member of the public, the Supreme Court vacated the grant of summary judgment, holding that the State Office of Information Practices palpably erred in interpreting a statutory exception to create the sweeping “deliberative process privilege.” The Office of Information Practices took the position that, based on a statutory exception provided in Hawaii’s public record law that permits the nondisclosure of records that would frustrate a legitimate government function if revealed, so-called deliberative process privilege existed that protected all pre-decisional, deliberative agency records without regard for the relative harm that would result from any specific disclosure. Relying on this information, the Office and Financial Services for the City and County of Honolulu denied a public records request for internal documents generated during the setting the annual operating budget. The Supreme Court remanded for a redetermination of whether the records withheld pursuant to the deliberative process privilege fell within a statutory exception to the disclosure requirement, holding that the deliberative process privilege is clearly irreconcilable with the plain language and legislative history of Hawaii’s public record laws. View "Peer News LLC v. City & County of Honolulu" on Justia Law

Posted in: Communications Law

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In this opinion, the Supreme Court elaborated as to its reason declaring invalid the ballot question authored by the state legislature that would approve an amendment granting the State the authority to impose a surcharge on investment real property, holding that the ballot question as written did not comply with the requirement that its language and meaning be clear and not misleading. After giving its reasoning for its decision, the Supreme Court held that the ballot question at issue was flawed on not presenting the information necessary to generate the “knowing and deliberate expression of voter choice” necessary for ratification. See Kahalekai v. Doi, 590 P.2d at 550 (Haw. 1979). View "City & County of Honolulu v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election 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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In this water use case, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the State of Hawaii Commission on Water Resource Management (Commission) concluding that Appellants waived the right to proceed on the contested case, holding that the Commission’s finding that Appellants waived the right to continue the case was not clearly erroneous or wrong. More than a decade ago, the Supreme Court vacated the issuance of two water use permits and remanded the matter to the Commission. On remand, the parties claiming to be the applicant’s successors in interest submitted a letter to the Commission stating that they did not have the financial resources to continue to pursue the case. Years later, Appellants filed a new water use application. The Commission treated the application as a continuation of the remanded case and then concluded that the letter constituted a waiver of Appellants’ right to continue the original proceedings. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Commission did not err in finding that Appellants expressly waived their right to proceed with the contested case by their letter. View "In re Contested Case Hearing on the Water Use Permit Application Originally Filed by Kukui, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirming the circuit court’s order and granting summary judgment for Defendant in this case arising out of the uncompleted sale of one business to another, holding that the plaintiff raised genuine issues of material fact as to its unfair method of competition (UMOC) claim. Specifically, the Court held (1) to raise an issue of material fact as to the nature of the competition requirement of a UMOC claim following the close of discovery, a plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant’s alleged anticompetitive conduct could negatively affect competition, but the plaintiff need not prove that the defendant in fact harmed competition; (2) to survive summary judgment, a plaintiff may generally describe the relevant market without resort to expert testimony and need not be a competitor of or in competition with the defendant; and (3) the plaintiff in this case raised genuine issues of material fact as to the first and second elements of a UMOC claim, and the circuit court erred erred in holding that the plaintiff was estopped from asserting the UMOC claim based on waiver, judicial estoppel and collateral estoppel. View "Field v. National Collegiate Athletic Ass’n" on Justia 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 affirmed the decision of the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) authorizing issuance of a Conservation District Use permit (CDUP) for a Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) near the summit of Mauna Kea, holding that the BLNR property applied the law in analyzing whether the permit should be issued for the TMT. Appellants, Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners, argued that Mauna Kea, as a sacred manifestation of their ancestors, was desecrated by development of astronomy facilities near its summit. The BLNR authorized issuance of the CDUP of the TMT after Third Circuit judge Riki May Amano conducted a contested case hearing over forty-four days. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the BLNR did not err by refusing to disqualify Amano as the hearing officer, and certain Deputy Attorneys General; (2) the TMT project does not violate religious exercise rights of Native Hawaiians protected by federal statutes; (3) the TMT project does not violate public trust principles, and the conditions of Hawai’i Administrative Rules 13-5-30(c) for issuance of a CDUP were satisfied; and (4) the proceeding was legitimate. View "In re Contested Case Hearing re Conservation District Use Application" on Justia Law