Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Hawaii

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) vacating the circuit court's order granting Defendant's motion to suppress, holding that the police lacked reasonable suspicion to seize Defendant while he was lying next to the beach in Waikiki. Defendant was approached by police officers while he was lying on a concrete slab adjacent to an apartment complex on Waikiki beach. After an officer asked Defendant to provide his identification and Defendant provided a Veterans Affairs medical card to the officer, the officer noticed Defendant was grasping something in his backpack. An officer pulled the bag from Defendant, and a collapsible baton fell out of the backpack. Defendant grabbed the baton and held it up as if to brandish it, but the police officers wrested control of the baton away from Defendant and arrested him. Defendant was charged with one count of carrying a deadly weapon. The circuit court granted Defendant's motion to suppress evidence of the baton. The ICA vacated the circuit court's order, concluding that the seizure was incident to a valid weapons search. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the police violated Defendant's constitutional rights by approaching him, asking for his identification, and seizing his backpack. View "State v. Weldon" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated Defendant's conviction for operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant, holding that the district court erroneously advised Defendant with regard to his right to testify in the context of a consolidated suppression hearing and trial. After he was charged, Defendant filed a motion to suppress statements he allegedly made to the police officer who arrested him. The district court consolidated the hearing on Defendant's motion to suppress with his bench trial and provided Defendant with several advisements about his right to testify. Defendant declined to testify, and the district court granted the motion to suppress in part. The court then found Defendant guilty. The intermediate court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated Defendant's conviction and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that Defendant did not knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waive his right to testify for the purposes of the pre-trial suppression hearing. View "State v. Chang" on Justia Law

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In this work injury discrimination case the Supreme Court held that in order for business necessity to constitute a valid defense to a claim of work injury discrimination, an employer must demonstrate that the employee's absence caused a business impairment that could not be reasonably alleviated by means that would not result in discrimination. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment the intermediate court of appeals' judgment on appeal and the judgment of the circuit court reversing the decision of the Director of the Hawai'i Department of Labor and Industrial Relations that the work injury discrimination in this case was contravened by Hawaii law, holding that the decision of the hearing officer that the employer in this case discriminated against the employee solely because of her work injury should have been affirmed. View "BCI Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Los Angeles, Inc. v. Murakami" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the intermediate court of appeals and vacated Defendant's conviction of promoting a dangerous drug in the third degree and unlawful use of drug paraphernalia, holding that Defendant's motion to suppress should have been granted because he was seized longer than was necessary for the police to conduct an investigation confirming the absence of a required tax decal. The pat-down of Defendant occurred after a police officer noticed Defendant riding a bicycle lacking a tax decal, which is required by law on all bicycles with wheels twenty inches or more in diameter. After the time necessary for the police to conduct the investigation confirming the officer's reasonable suspicion that the tax decal was missing and to issue a citation for the missing decal, a warrant check came back from dispatch indicating that Defendant had an outstanding warrant. Defendant was arrested based on the outstanding warrant, and a search incident to arrest revealed drugs and drug paraphernalia. The Supreme Court held (1) Defendant's arrest was illegal because the warrant check came back after the span of time necessary for the police to write and issue the citation; and (2) therefore, the evidence obtained as a result of the arrest was fruit of the poisonous tree. View "State v. Iona" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated Defendant's convictions and remanded this case to the circuit court for further proceedings, holding that multiple instances of improper prosecutorial conduct cumulatively jeopardized Defendant's right to a fair trial. Defendant was convicted of murder in the second degree and carrying or use of a firearm in the commission of a separate felony. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirmed. Defendant appealed, arguing, among other things, that the circuit court erred in denying his motions for mistrial and motion for a new trial due to prosecutorial misconduct. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that the cumulative effect of the prosecutor's improper conduct was so prejudicial as to jeopardize Defendant's right a fair trial. View "State v. Pasene" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirming the district court's judgment finding Defendant guilty of obstructing a highway or public passage after Defendant appeared pro se before the court, holding that the record on appeal did not indicate a valid waiver of counsel. At Defendant's plea hearing Defendant signed a form waiving his right to counsel. The court engaged in a colloquy with Defendant. Thereafter, the district court found Defendant guilty as charged. The ICA affirmed the district court's judgment. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA's judgment on appeal and the district court's judgment, holding that, under the circumstances of this case, Defendant did not provide an intelligent and knowing waiver of his right to counsel. View "State v. Fujiyoshi" on Justia 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 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