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Exchanging text messages did not require Miranda warnings because nobody was “in custody.”

  State v. James (HSC January 3, 2024) Background. After interviewing a complaining witness, detectives at the Kauai Police Department suspected Dylan James committed sexual assault. The police had the CW contact James to talk about it. The CW tried calling twice and James did not pick up. Then the CW texted him. In the text messages, James admitted to having “rough” sex and texted that “when you were screaming and crawling away from the lifeguard tower . . . couldn[‘]t tell if you were serious[.]” James was indicted with five counts of sexual assault in the first degree.   James filed a motion to suppress his statements in the text messages on the grounds that the police used the CW as an agent and failed to apprise James of his constitutional right to remain silent and his right to counsel. The circuit court, with the Hon. Judge Randal Valenciano presiding, granted the motion. The circuit court found that James was “in custody” for Miranda purposes because probable cause had d

Judge accidentally strikes the entire expert opinion in a murder trial

  State v. Sylva (HSC December 29, 2023) Background. Kumulipo Sylva was indicted for murder in the second degree after he was arrested for killing Eduardo Cerezo in the bathroom of the Queen Kaahumanu Shopping Center. Sylva raised the insanity defense and three examiners were appointed to determine penal responsibility. All three concluded that Sylva suffered from a physical or mental disease, disorder, or defect. Two out of the three believed he lacked capacity under the insanity defense was not criminally responsible.   At trial, the prosecution presented evidence that Cerezo and Kyle Keoho got on the bus in Pukalani when they saw Sylva on the bus. Cerezo called Sylva a “pussy” and threatened to beat him up. When the bus got to the shopping center, the three of them got off and Sylva challenged Cerezo to a fight. Cerezo said he did not want to fight and Sylva walked away from them.   Cerezo and Keoho went to the bathroom together. Sylva also went into the bathroom with a ca

HSC examines when county ordinances are (and aren't) preempted by state statutes

  State v. Pickell (HSC December 26, 2023) Background. Michael Pickell was charged with operating a vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant. He filed a motion to suppress evidence challenging the basis for the traffic stop.   At the hearing, Officer Raul Mehra testified that he was on duty in Kihei one night when he saw Pickell in the left-turn-only lane with his left-turn signal on at the intersection of Pi‘ilani Highway and Ohukai Road. In Pickell’s lane was a left-turn-only sign and a left directional arrow. Next to the traffic light there was a gin that indicated left-turn only. When Pickell’s light turned green, he made a U-turn instead of turning left onto Ohukai Road. The turn required Pickell to drive across double solid yellow lines and a dashed white line. Officer Mehra initiated a traffic stop. Pickell said he was going home but later said he was going to Safeway. He also said he thought he could make a lawful U-turn because he was from California and did n

Probation doesn't toll when the motion to revoke probation is never heard on the merits and is dismissed

  State v. Banares (ICA October 16, 2023) Background. Joven Joseph Banares was charged with promoting a dangerous drug in the third degree, pleaded no contest, and was sentenced to four years of probation. Probation started in May 2016. A little more than a year into his probationary term, the prosecution filed a motion to revoke probation and to resentence him to imprisonment based on alleged violations of the terms and conditions of probation. To bring Banares into court, the court issued a warrant for his arrest on February 7, 2017. The warrant was not served until January 17, 2022.   Banares moved to dismiss on the grounds that the delay in serving the warrant violated Hawai'i Rules of Penal Procedure Rule 9. Banares also argued that upon dismissal, his time on probation would have run because it has not been tolled. The prosecution agreed that there was no effort to serve the warrant and agreed that there was a Rule 9 violation. It did object to tolling the time. The ci

Courts don’t need a charging document for jurisdiction, but do need a pretty good reason to impose consecutive terms

  State v. Bautista (HSC September 13, 2023) Background. The prosecution filed a complaint in the district court alleging seven crimes of violence against Rommel Bautista, including attempted murder in the second degree. All of the charges stemmed from an incident that occurred between Bautista and his wife in their home in Kahului. The district court held a preliminary hearing and found probable cause supported every count. The district court confirmed bail and committed the case to the circuit court.   The prosecution did not file a complaint in the circuit court. At the arraignment, Bautista pleaded not guilty. Five months later, the parties reached an agreement. Bautista pleaded no contest to three class C felonies: assault in the second degree, terroristic threatening in the first degree, and abuse of a family or household member in the presence of a minor. All other counts—including the attempted murder and assault in the first degree—were dismissed. There were no agreemen