Posts

Indictment Defective for Failure to Plead Computer Fraud as a Continuing Course of Conduct

  State v. Shaw (HSC October 1, 2021) Background. Susan Shaw was prosecuted for one count of computer fraud in the third degree and fraudulent use of a credit card. In the indictment, the prosecution pleaded in the computer fraud count that from January 16, 2017 through and including May 18, 2017, Shaw “did knowingly access a computer, or computer network with the intent to commit the offense of theft in the third degree[.]” The count also provided the elements to theft in the third degree. Shaw moved to dismiss the indictment based on lack of probable cause. Shaw argued that aggregating the amounts for the thefts into a single felony is not permitted under the computer fraud statute. The motion was denied. Shaw was convicted as charged and the circuit court—the Hon. Judge Fa‘auuga L. To‘oto‘o presiding—sentenced her to five years imprisonment. She appealed to the ICA. The ICA held that the credit card offense should have been dismissed. The ICA vacated judgment and remanded the cas

HSC Defines Outliers of Attorney General's Investigatory Powers

  In re: Investigation of KAHEA (HSC September 21, 2021) Background. The construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the summit of Mauna Kea sparked a protest movement. KAHEA: The Hawaiian Environmental Alliance, is a community-based, tax-exempt, charitable organization, opposes TMT construction. KAHEA operates the Aloha ‘Aina Support Fund. It affords logistical support to TMT protestors and in some cases provides bail when appropriate. KAHEA also challenged the Board of Land and Natural Resources through lawsuits and appeals.   The State’s Attorney General investigated KAHEA. In 2019, the AG served on First Hawaiian Bank a subpoena overing KAHEA’s bank records generated over an approximately two-year period. The AG demanded disclosure of financial records: monthly statements, signature/account cards, debit card assignments, powers of attorney, deposit tickets, cancelled checks, debit and credit memos, loan applications, notice of adverse actions against account holders, other

Expert Testimony not Required for Decedent's BAC Level to Support Self-Defense Case

  State v. David (HSC September 9, 2021) Background. Peter David was initially charged with murder in the second degree. A jury found him guilty as charged, but the HSC vacated the conviction and remanded for new trial. Prior to trial, the prosecution moved in limine to exclude evidence from the toxicology report that the decedent’s blood alcohol content was 0.252. The circuit court, the Hon. Judge Paul Wong presiding, ruled that unless David had an expert to explain the connection between a BAC of 0.252 and intoxication, the evidence was inadmissible.   At trial the prosecution presented evidence that on New Year’s Day in Kalihi, David and his family were drinking heavily. David and his cousin, the decedent Santhony Albert, got into an argument. David asked for a beer and Albert punched him in the face and hit him with a beer bottle. The fight escalated to the point where they squared off in the parking lot in front of the housing. It ended when David stabbed Albert. Albert ra

When the Verdict Gets Weird, Try to not Make it Weird Before Vacating for New Trial

  State v. Bringas (HSC August 31, 2021) Background. Adrian-John Bringas was indicted with murder in the second degree of a minor known as W and assault in the second degree of W’s brother, C.U. At trial, the jury heard evidence that Bringas was riding his bicycle late one night in Kalihi near the Kuhio Park Terrace when his bike chain fell off. He stopped to fix it with a knife he had in his backpack. He was approached by a minor known as W. W offered him cannabis. Bringas testified that the mood felt “dark” and W was asking him several questions. A family friend of W, Eileen Prescott, showed up with her boyfriend. That lightened the situation.   Prescott testified that she saw Bringas and W talking. She turned away to her boyfriend, R. K., and overheard Bringas ask W if he wanted to buy a “dime” but W said he did not have any money. Then she noticed Bringas and W shoving each other. She testified Bringas grab a shiny object from his backpack, case W, and stab him. Bringas walk

Prosecutor's Discovery Violations, Violation of a Ruling In Limine, and Lurid Cross-Examination Require New Trial

  State v. Williams (HSC June 30, 2021) Background. Matthew Williams was charged with multiple counts of sexual assault. The complainant was a minor male, T. Y. Before trial, the defense filed a motion in limine to exclude any of T.Y.’s out-of-court statements—particularly any statements he made to his school friends, S.S. and C.O. The circuit court, with the Hon. Judge Karen S.S. Ahn presiding, granted the motion.   During her opening statement at trial, the prosecutor, Victoria Chang, made several references to the out-of-court statements:   One of [T.Y.’s] friends will tell you about how she and [T.Y.] sat in [T.Y.’s] room the night she learned about what happened. She will tell you how [T.Y.] could not look at her, how [T.Y.] could not say what happened. He could only write it, and write it he did. Using his computer, he sent her a message.   The defense objected. At a bench conference, it was revealed that this message was never disclosed to the defense. The prosecu