Posts

Showing posts from January, 2010

ICA: Circuit Court Cannot Ignore the Inevitable Discovery Doctrine, Remands in Absence of Findings

State v. Rodrigues (HSC January 25, 2010)Background. Officer Williamson discovered that Rodrigues had outstanding bench warrants and placed him under arrest. Officer Williamson conducted a search incident to the arrest, but instead of doing a pat-down, he pulled out items from Rodrigues' pockets, including clear plastic baggies containing crystal methamphetamine. Rodrigues was put in the Kauai Police Dept. cell block. Officer Williamson admitted that he did not believe Rodrigues concealed weapons, drugs, needles, or any other contraband.Rodrigues was charged with promoting a dangerous drug in the 3d (HRS § 712-1243). Rorigues filed a motion to suppress. The State argued that the evidence was still admissible because it would have been inevitably discovered during an inventory search that take place in the police cellblock. At the hearing, Sergeant Kaui testified that arresting officers are responsible for conducing searches of the arrestee, including pockets. The circuit c…

Pesky Plain Error Problems

State v. Miller (HSC January 25, 2010)Background. Miller was charged with abuse of family/household member. The parties came to a plea agreement and entered it on the record. Miller would plead no contest to an amended charge of assault in the 3d degree (HRS § 707-712), write a letter of apology, serve 1 year probation with 48 hours jail, undergo a substance abuse treatment, pay restitution, and attend domestic violence classes. Miller would also move for a deferred acceptance of no contest plea (DANC) pursuant to HRS § 853-1. The State agreed that it would "take no position" on the DANC motion.The family court reserved a guilty finding pending the DANC motion. The family court then heard the State's argument for sentencing. The prosecutor argued that this was a brutal incident and went into graphic detail about it. Miller argued that his motion for DANC should be granted based on the findings necessary under HRS § 853-1. The family court denied the motion and s…

Procedure and Instrument Used in BAC Tests Must be Approved by DUI Coordinator

State v. Werle (HSC November 3, 2009)Background. Werle was charged with operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant. (HRS § 291E-61(a)). At trial, the State's witnesses established that Werle was arrested and submitted to a blood test. The blood sample was drawn and taken to a lab. Jon Tsuchida, a lab technician, testified that he ran the blood through a machine at the lab known as the Abbot AxSYM. Tsuchida also testified about the "enzymatic method" which was used to test Werle's blood. Tsuchida testified that Werle's BAC was 0.370. Dr. Clifford Wong testified. The prosecutor asked Dr. Wong if the lab's testing procedures had been approved by the DOH, but withdrew the question after Werle objected.The State admitted into evidence a letter from the DOH stating that the lab's license to conduct blood alcohol testing had been updated. The district court also admitted into evidence the DOH-issued license for the lab that was in effect …

When Plain Language Becomes Ambiguous

Stop Rail Now v. De Costa (ICA December 30, 2009)Background. A group of concerned citizens submitted to the Clerk of the City and County of Honolulu a petition purportedly signed by over 49,000 registered voters. The petition proposed an ordinance by initiative stating that Honolulu mass transit "shall not include trains or rail transit." The Clerk rejected the petition for a special initiative election because the City and County Charter did not allow initiative special elections within 180 days of a general election. The petition was withdrawn.Stop Rail Now brought a lawsuit and a motion in the circuit court seeking a preliminary injunction that directed the Clerk to file and process a special initiative election and, if there were sufficient signatures, place the proposed ordinance on the general election ballot. The circuit court granted the motion and ordered the Clerk to accept the petition and determine whether there was sufficient signatures. The circuit court …