On November 8, 2013, the HAWSCT accepted cert in AC v. AC, SCWC-12-0000808, a case involving child custody, and the authority of the Family Court to place limits on the time allowed for trial testimony.
In the underlying case, Mother filed for paternity and custody. During the proceedings, Mother alleged that Father had abused her. After allowing only three hours for trial, the Family Court awarded Father sole physical and legal custody of the parties’ children. The court also allowed Father to permanently physically locate the children to Texas.
The ICA held that the Family Court did not err in limited the trial to three hours under the court’s inherent power to control the litigation process before it. By limiting the trial time, the court cut short Mother’s testimony, and meant that additional witnesses did not testify (allegedly related to abuse of Mother by Father). The court also denied Mother’s motion to extend the time, and a later motion for new trial.
Chief Judge Nakamura disagreed, and in his dissenting opinion noted that “the question of custody over Children was too important and the proper determination of Children’s best interests too complex for the Family Court to inflexibly limit the time for trial to a total of three hours.”
On cert, Mother argues that the Family Court erred in limiting the time for trial, and in denying her motion to extend time because the denial precluded her from further testifying and from presenting additional witnesses. According to Mother, the additional testimony was important to the court’s determination related to the best interests of the children.
The case has not been set for oral arguments.
The cert application is available here. No response was filed.
The HAWSCT’s order accepting cert is available here.
The ICA’s SDO is available here.
Chief Judge Nakamura’s dissenting opinion is available here.