Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Hawaii

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The circuit court deprived Defendant of his right to confront and cross-examine the complaining witness (CW) as to her bias and motive by limiting the CW’s testimony on the subject of Defendant’s immigration status and whether the CW knew that Defendant could face deportation if he was arrested. Defendant was found guilty of terroristic threatening in the first degree. The offense arose from a domestic dispute between Defendant and his ex-girlfriend, the CW. The intermediate court of appeals affirmed the judgment of conviction. Defendant filed an application for writ of certiorari, challenging the circuit court’s decision to limit the CW’s testimony on cross-examination. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of conviction and probation sentence and remanded the case to the circuit court for a new trial. View "State v. Acacio" on Justia Law

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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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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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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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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

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Defendant was arrested for operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant. Before he decided whether to submit to alcohol concentration testing, Defendant was affirmatively advised that he was not entitled to an attorney before submitting to any such tests. Defendant was charged with operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant (OVUII) and refusal to submit to a breath, blood, and/or urine test. Defendant filed a motion to suppress, alleging that the evidence was obtained in violation of his right to consult with counsel as provided by Haw. Rev. Stat. 803-9. The district court denied the motion to suppress. After a trial, Defendant was convicted of OVUII and the refusal offense. The intermediate court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the advisory given in this case is inconsistent with Hawaii’s statutory right to access counsel; but (2) under the circumstances of this case, Defendant’s refusal to submit to testing was not subject to suppression. View "State v. Scalera" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted for the attempted murder of his wife. Defendant appealed, arguing that the circuit court violated his rights under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Haw. Const. art. I, 7 by denying his motion to suppress. The Intermediate Court of Appeals vacated Defendant’s conviction, concluding that the circuit court erred in applying the plain view doctrine to the discovery of certain evidence. The Supreme Court reversed the ICA’s judgment on appeal and affirmed the trial court’s amended judgment of conviction, holding (1) the ICA adopted an interpretation of the plain view doctrine that is contrary to the Court’s prior decisions and the protections and limits of the rights guaranteed under Haw. Const. art. I, 7; and (2) the warrantless seizure of the evidence at issue was lawful. View "State v. Phillips" on Justia Law

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Defendant was arrested for possession of methamphetamine after a routine traffic stop. Defendant was convicted and sentenced for promotion of a dangerous drug in the third degree. Defendant appealed, arguing that the circuit court erred in denying his motion to suppress drug evidence recovered as a result of a canine narcotics screen that was performed on his vehicle. The Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA) affirmed Defendant’s conviction and the denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA’s judgment, holding that the ICA erred in affirming the denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress, as the canine screen was a separate unlawful seizure not reasonably related in scope to the original traffic stop. Remanded. View "State v. Alvarez" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of unauthorized entry into motor vehicle in the first degree. Before trial, the State filed a motion to determine the voluntariness of a statement Defendant made to the police. The circuit court granted in part and denied in part the State’s motion, finding that Defendant’s statement to a police officer that “I wouldn’t have to punch people if they didn’t upset me” was a voluntary statement and was admissible. The statement was made during the police officer’s “effort to make small talk and calm [Defendant] down.” The intermediate court of appeals affirmed, concluding that the absence of prior Miranda warnings by the police officer did not provide a basis to suppress Defendant’s “spontaneous and volunteered statement.” The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Defendant’s right against self-incrimination was violated because the police officer subjected Defendant, a person in custody pursuant to an arrest, to “interrogation” without the protection of a Miranda advisement; and (2) the circuit court abused its discretion in admitting evidence of 2006 prior bad acts. Remanded for a new trial. View "State v. Kazanas" on Justia Law

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Civil Beat requested the disciplinary records of twelve Honolulu Police Department (HPD) officers who were suspended for various types of misconduct. HPD denied the request in its entirety. Civil Beat then filed a complaint seeking an order directing HPD to disclose the information Civil Beat sought. The circuit court ruled in favor of Civil Beat, concluding that police officers have a “non-existent” privacy interest in their disciplinary suspension records. The Supreme Court vacated the circuit court’s judgment, holding that police officers have a significant privacy interest in their disciplinary suspension records, and disclosure of the records is appropriate when the public interest in access to the records outweighs this privacy interest. Remanded for a determination of whether the public interest outweighs the officers’ significant privacy interests. View "Peer News LLC v. City & County of Honolulu" on Justia Law