Articles Posted in Hawaii Supreme Court

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Appellant, an inmate in custody, filed a petition post-conviction relief under Haw. R. Penal P. 40, alleging that he was incompetent to stand trial, his trial counsel and appellate counsel provided ineffective assistance, and prosecutorial misconduct. The circuit court denied the petition without an evidentiary hearing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant’s appeal was without merit where Appellant failed to establish a colorable claim that (1) he was incompetent to stand trial; (2) his appellate counsel provided ineffective assistance for failing to appeal the issue of Appellant’s alleged incompetence to stand trial; (3) his trial counsel was ineffective; and (4) the prosecutor committed misconduct that would warrant relief under Rule 40. View "Fanelli v. State " on Justia Law

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United Public Workers, AFSCME, Local 646, AFL-CIO (“UPW”) filed an action on behalf of the employees it represented, alleging (1) then-Governor Lingle and members of her administration retaliated against UPW members for filing a lawsuit opposing her statewide furlough plan; and (2) the State was unlawfully privatizing positions customarily performed by civil servants under the merit system. The circuit court dismissed the complaint based on a lack of jurisdiction. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) vacated the circuit court’s judgment and remanded with instructions to stay the action pursuant to the primary jurisdiction doctrine so the parties could pursue appropriate administrative remedies before the Hawaii Labor Relations Board (HLRB). The Supreme Court primarily affirmed, holding (1) the ICA did not err in concluding that the primary jurisdiction doctrine was applicable to UPW’s retaliation claims because the claims required the resolution of issues that have been placed within the special competence of the HLRB, and that a stay, rather than a dismissal, was appropriate under the circumstances; and (2) the primary jurisdiction doctrine did not apply to UPW’s privatization claims, and therefore, the circuit court erred in dismissing these claims, and the ICA erred in referring the claims to the HLRB. Remanded. View "United Pub. Workers, AFSCME, Local 636, AFL-CIO v. Abercrombie" on Justia Law

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Richard Cohan sued Marriott Hotel Services and RRB Restaurants for damages he incurred when he was injured at a restaurant at Marriott’s. The case was placed in the Court Annexed Arbitration Program. Marriott asked Cohan to sign authorizations to obtain medical and employment records, but Cohan refused. Marriott subsequently moved for an order compelling Cohan to sign the authorizations so it could obtain the records via subpoena. The arbitrator ordered Cohan to sign the authorizations as well as a qualified protective order. The order, however, did not limit the use or disclosure of Cohan’s health information to the underlying litigation. The Honorable Bert Ayabe, the arbitration judge, affirmed the arbitrator’s decision. Petitioner subsequently filed a petition for writ of mandamus. The Supreme Court granted the petition and ordered Judge Ayabe to vacate the order affirming the arbitration decision and order that the qualified protective order and the authorizations for release of medical records be revised consistent with this opinion, holding that the privacy provision of Haw. Const. art. I, 6 protected Cohan’s health information against disclosure outside the underlying litigation. View "Cohan v. Circuit Court (Ayabe)" on Justia Law

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After a trial, Defendant was convicted of operating a vehicle after license and privilege have been suspended or revoked for operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant. On appeal, the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) vacated the district court’s judgment, determining that the charge against Defendant was defective for failing to allege the requisite state of mind, and remanded with instructions to dismiss the case without prejudice. Defendant filed an application for writ of certiorari, contending that the ICA gravely erred in failing to address his arguments that insufficient evidence sustained the conviction and that double jeopardy precluded retrial. The Supreme Court affirmed but on different grounds, holding (1) a reviewing court is required to address an express claim of insufficiency of the evidence prior to remaining for a new trial based on a defective charge; but (2) substantial evidence supported the conviction in this case, and therefore, double jeopardy did not preclude a retrial. View "State v. Davis" on Justia Law

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Defendant John Walton and his codefendant, Courage Lee Elkshoulder, were indicted for attempted murder in the second degree and robbery in the first degree. The circuit court consolidated Walton’s and Elkshoulder’s trials and denied Walton’s and Elkshoulder’s motions for severance. During trial, Walton and Elkshoulder each argued that the other had stabbed the complaining witness. The jury found Walton guilty of both attempted murder and robbery but found Elkshoulder guilty only of assault and robbery. The Supreme Court vacated the circuit court’s judgment and remanded for a new trial, holding that the circuit court erred in denying Walton’s motion for severance, and, under the circumstances, Walton was prejudiced and denied a fair trial. View "State v. Walton" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a complaint against his former employer and supervisors, alleging that he suffered discriminatory conduct while employed as a car salesman. Plaintiff asserted claims for state harassment and retaliation, federal harassment and retaliation, unlawful termination as against public policy, and breach of his employment contract. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) (1) vacated the grant of summary judgment in favor of the employer and one of Defendant’s supervisors on the state harassment and retaliation claims and vacated the grant of summary judgment in favor of the employer on the federal harassment and retaliation claims and the public policy claim, and (2) otherwise affirmed. The Supreme Court (1) vacated the ICA’s judgment on the state harassment and retaliation claims with respect to Plaintiff’s supervisor, holding that individual employees are not liable as employers under Haw. Rev. Stat. 378-2(1)(A) and 378-2(2); and (2) otherwise affirmed. View "Lales v. Wholesale Motors Co." on Justia Law

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The State charged Defendant, a native Hawaiian, of operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant (OVUII). Defendant appealed, arguing, among other things, that he was denied due process because the complaint did not allege the state of mind that the State was required to prove for the charge of OVUII. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirmed Defendant’s conviction. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA’s judgment and vacated the circuit court’s judgment of conviction and sentence, holding that, inasmuch as the charge against Defendant did not allege the requisite state of mind that also was an essential fact of the offense of OVUII, the complaint must be dismissed without prejudice. Remanded with instructions to dismiss. View "State v. Rivera " on Justia Law

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Defendant was charged with committing the offense of assault in the third degree and was convicted as charged. Defendant appealed, arguing that he was not adequately informed of his right to testify. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for a new trial, holding (1) the district court’s right-to-testify colloquy was defective, and as a result, Defendant did not intelligently, knowingly, and voluntarily waive his right to testify; (2) the constitutional violation of Defendant’s right to testify was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt; and (3) substantial evidence supported Defendant’s conviction, and the prohibition against double jeopardy did not preclude a retrial in this case. View "State v. Pomroy" on Justia Law

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Petitioner was adjudged guilty of operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant in violation of Haw. Rev. Stat. 291E-61(a)(1). Petitioner challenged the sufficiency of the complaint against her for the first time on appeal, alleging that section 291E-61(a)(1) was deficient for failing to allege mens rea. The intermediate court of appeals affirmed the district court’s judgment. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA’s judgment and remanded with instructions to dismiss the complaint against Petitioner without prejudice, holding that because the complaint failed to charge a requisite state of mind, the ICA’s judgment must be vacated and the charge dismissed without prejudice because it violated due process. View "State v. Avilla " on Justia Law

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After a bench trial, Petitioner was convicted of abuse of a family or household member. On appeal, Petitioner argued that the family court did not ensure that he had “fully” waived his right to a jury trial. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirmed, concluding that under the totality of the circumstances, Petitioner had validly waived his right to a jury trial. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA’s judgment and the family court’s judgment, holding that the family court failed to ensure that Petitioner’s waiver of his right to a jury trial was voluntary. Remanded for a new trial. View "State v. Baker" on Justia Law