In June, the Hawaii Supreme Court issued fifteen published opinions, and the Intermediate Court of Appeals issued two. Below is a brief synopsis of each:
In State v. Phua, SCWC-11-0000686 (June 30, 2015), the HAWSCT vacated the defendant’s sentence because his waiver of the right to counsel was not voluntarily and intelligently made.
In In re Grievance Arb. Between State of Haw./SHOPO and Cnty of Kauai, SCWC-10-0000077 (June 29, 2015), the HAWSCT affirmed the ICA’s decision holding that the circuit court erred in finding that it was beyond the scope of an arbitrator’s authority to award promotions and back pay of three police officers.
In St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. Liberty Mutual Ins. Co., SCCQ-14-0000727 (June 29, 2015), the HAWSCT, answering a certified question from the federal district court, held that “an excess liability insurer can bring a cause of action, under the doctrine of equitable subrogation, against a primary liability insurer who in bad faith fails to settle a claim within the limits of the primary liability policy, when the primary insurer has paid its policy limit toward settlement.”
In Tagupa v. VIPDESK, SCWC-13-0002084 (June 29, 2015), the HAWSCT held that a trial court has the authority to condition the voluntary dismissal of a complaint on the payment of the defendant’s attorneys’ fees and costs by the plaintiff as long as the plaintiff is given notice of the condition and an opportunity to withdrawal the request for voluntary dismissal.
In Pofolk Aviation Haw., Inc. v. DOT, SCWC-13-00003857 (June 29, 2015), the HAWSCT held valid airport landing fees charged to commercial users by the Department of Transportation Airport Division on properly DOT leases from the United States Army at Dillingham Airfield.
In Bailey v. Duvauchelle, SCWC-14-0000883 (June 29, 2015), the HAWSCT clarifying its seminal decision in Jenkins and holding that a motion for reconsideration under HRCP 60(b) is only appealable if the judgment from which reconsideration is sought was itself a final appealable judgment.
In State v. Chin, SCWC-13-0002469 (June 25, 2015), the HAWSCT held that the circuit court erred in denying the defendant’s motion for new trial because she failed to show substantial prejudice of the denial of her right to fair trial by an impartial jury, and that any private communication or contact between a juror and a witness during a trial, unless trivial, may meet the substantial prejudice standard. Because the defendant raised a prima facie case of improper influence and, thus, a presumption of prejudice, the circuit court was required to investigate the claim.
In Ruggles v. Yagong, SCWC-13-0000117 (June 25, 2015), the HAWSCT held that a Big Island voter sponsored initiative known as the Lowest Law Enforcement of Cannabis law was preempted by state law because it covers the same subject matter as the state law, and conflicts with the state law.
In Doe v. Attorney General, SCWC-13-0005700 (June 18, 2015), the HAWSCT held that a decision made by the Attorney General related to the impact of the Hawaii sex offender registration statute on an out-of-state registered sex offender led to an appealable decision over which the circuit court had jurisdiction.
In State v. Reed, SCWC-13-0000069 (June 17, 2015), the HAWSCT held that the circuit court erred in denying the defendant’s motion to substitute retained counsel for court appointed counsel because it denied the defendant his constitutional right to privately retained counsel of choice.
In State v. Garcia, SCWC-13-0000059 (June 15, 2015), the HAWSCT held that the family court erred in denying the defendant’s motion to withdrawal his no contest plea after the prosecutor submitted a letter and exhibits that were contrary to the plea agreement.
In State v. Guyton, SCWC-13-0000203 (June 8, 2015), the HAWSCT held that the plain meaning of the phrase “residence, including yard and garage” contained in an injunction order does not encompass the outer area of the person’s 1,000-acre property.
In Gordon v. Gordon, SCWC-12-0000806 (June 4, 2015), the HAWSCT held that the family court failed to provide a sufficient basis in its findings of fact that equitable considerations, also known as VARCS, to support its deviation from an equitable division of assets under the partnership model, the standard followed in Hawaii divorce cases in the division and distribution of the marital estate upon divorce. The court also held that financial misconduct of one of the parties is not a VARC justifying deviation from partnership principles, and is not a consideration in whether to award alimony.
In Narayan v. The Ritz-Carlton Develop. Co., SCWC-12-0000819 (June 3, 2015), the HAWSCT held that the failure of property association owners to unambiguously assent to arbitration made an agreement to arbitrate unenforceable.
In Gold Coast Neighborhood Ass’n v. State, CAAP-14-0000472 (June 30, 2015), the ICA held that the circuit court had jurisdiction over the case because the filing of reciprocal suits for declaratory judgment created antagonistic claims arising from a dispute over the ownership of dilapidated seawalls at the Diamond Head end of Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki, that the State has a duty to maintain the seawall walkway because it acquired an easement by implied dedication (i.e. prescriptive easement) for pedestrian travel, that the State had acquired ownership of the seawall and the land under it by surrender, and that the State’s consent was not required for creation of either.
In State v. Miles, CAAP-13-0000193 (June 23, 2015), the ICA held that the City and County of Honolulu’s Office of the Prosecuting Attorney has the authority to represent the State in bail forfeiture proceedings.