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Showing posts from October, 2008

When Holding is not "Maintaining"

Nu'uanu Valley Association v. City and County of HNL (HSC October 24, 2008)

Background. A landowner sought to develop approximately 50 acres of steep mountainside property in upper Nu'uanu Valley. The landowner submitted an application to the City's Dept. of Planning for approval of developing nine residential lots. The Nu'uanu Valley Assocation, a non-profit organization, requested from the City copies and inspection of all comments and engineering reports pertaining to the proposed subdivision. The City explained that its comments on submitted reports are sent back to the applicant. Nothing becomes available until they have been "accepted" by the City. After the City "accepted" a drainage report, it was made available for copying. The NVA sued the City alleging violations of the Uniform Information Practices Act (HRS chapter 92F) and the Hawai'i Environmental Policy Act (HRS ch. 343) because an environmental assessment was not done. The City pr…

Where There's a Right of Action, There's a way

Partially Overruled in County of Hawai'i v. Ala Loop
Pono v. Molokai Ranch (ICA October 21, 2008)

Background. Molokai Ranch owned agricultural lands on the western end of Molokai. The Ranch asked the then-Mayor Linda Crockett Lingle and other Maui County officials if commercial campgrounds could be developed on these lands and, if so, what permits were needed. The County informed the Ranch that development was possible and that permits were needed for tents, yurts, and other camping facilities. The Ranch got the permits and started developing. An unincorporated association of Molokai residents called Pono sued the Ranch, Maui County, and the mayor and her officials. Pono sought a declaratory order stopping the development because it violated the state land use law (HRS ch. 205) and county zoning laws. The circuit court dismissed those counts because it failed to exhaust administrative remedies--it did not bring their claim before the County's Board of Variances Appeals--a…

Prejudice Pushes Aside Mootness Doctrine

Hamilton v. Lethem (HSC October 14, 2008)

Background.
Hamilton, the mother, filed a temporary restraining order on behalf of her daughter against Lethem, the father. At the hearing on the TRO, Lethem raised the parental justification defense, but the family court confirmed the TRO. Lethem appealed to the ICA and while it was pending, the TRO expired. The ICA concluded that the appeal was moot and no exception applied. A majority proceeded onto the merits of the appeal, reversed the family court, and ordered the family court to dismiss the case. Judge Foley dissented because he believed the appeal should have been dismissed for mootness.

The Mootness Doctrine. A case is moot "where events subsequent to the judgment of the trial court have so affected the relations between the parties that the two conditions for justiciability relevant on appeal--adverse interest and effective remedy--have been comprised." Lathrop v. Sakatani, 111 Hawai'i 307, 312-13, 141 P.3d 480, 4…

Constitutional Challenges to Evidentiary Rulings and a Contested Election

State v. Kassebeer (HSC September 30, 2008)

Background. Kassebeer and his ex-wife, the complaining witness, were still having sexual relations. One night Kassebeer saw the complaining witness and was convinced that she was seeing someone else. In the early morning hours of 4-10-04, Kassebeer to her apartment in search of evidence that she was sleeping with another man. When she got home, Kassebeer grabbed her, covered her mouth, and confronted her with his suspicions. She was talking with her friend, Hashimoto-Matautia, when she got home on her cell phone. Hashimoto-Matautia called the police, but nothing came of it. That afternoon, Kassebeer went back to the complaining witness's, but she was not at home. The people who took him there had to leave, and he was alone in her apartment. He saw her coming home on her cell phone and waited for her. According to the complaining witness, Kassebeer was forceful and raped her when she got home. During that time, Hashimoto-Matauti…