Showing posts from April, 2011

District Court has no Jurisdiction to oust Housing Co-op Members

Hawaiian Properties, Ltd. v. Tauala (ICA April 28, 2011) Background. HPL brought in the district court a complaint for summary possession against Tauala on the grounds that she had broken a "rental agreement" with HPL due to unpaid rent. Tauala filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds that she was a member of a housing co-op managed by HPL and had an ownership interest in the unit. Thus, she was not in a landlord-tenant relationship. HPL opposed and argued that she pretty much a tenant. The district court denied the motion and issued HPL a writ of possession. Tauala appealed. District Court has Jurisdiction is Limited to Landlord-Tenant Disputes. District courts "shall not have cognizance of real actions, nor actions in which the title of real estate comes in question[.]" HRS § 604-5(d). HPL initiated a summary possession proceeding pursuant to HRS chapter 666. Summary possession is "an expedient remedy to restore a landlord to the poss

Non-Hawaiians have no Standing to Challenge Tax Exemptions for Hawaiian Homes Lessees

Corboy v. Louie (HSC April 27, 2011) Background. Real property owners and paid their taxes to the State and all the Counties under protest. The taxpayers brought a complaint in the tax court alleging that the tax exemption for Hawaiian Homeland lessees and the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act (HHCA) of 1921 were unlawful. Essentially, the taxpayers argued that the tax exemption violated the Equal Protection Clause. The governments brought a motion for summary judgment. The motion was granted. The taxpayers appealed and the ICA affirmed. The Taxpayers' Claim: tax Exemptions for Hawaiian Homes Lessees Violate the Equal Protection Clause. The HSC zeroed in on the actual claims brought by the taxpayers: that the exemptions pursuant to the HHCA and the HHCA itself violate the equal protection clause. The HSC noted that a challenge to the HHCA tax exemption is really a challenge to the requirement that only Native Hawaiians are eligible for the homestead leases and thus

Order of Involuntary Dismissal with Prejudice a tall Order

Blaisdell v. State (HSC April 26, 2011) Background. Richard Blaisdell was a prisoner in Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona. Prison officials took audio cassette tapes from his cell. Blaisdell filed a pleading titled "Motion For Court to Order Saguaro Prison Officials to Give Blaisdell His Legal Material Forthwith" in the circuit court. The pleading requested the return of his tapes. No one was served with the pleading. The circuit court interpreted the pleading as a civil complaint and denied the request without prejudice on the grounds that it failed to comply with HRCP Rule 65(b), which pertains to injunctive relief. Blaisdell then filed an "Emergency Motion for a T.R.O. and/or Preliminary Injunction" again seeking the return of the tapes in order to prevent officials from destroying the tapes. Blaisdell argued the tapes were evidence of prosecutorial misconduct in the case that lead to his incarceration. The motion was denied. Bl

Prosecutor's Improper Hypothetical at Closing Proves Fatal

State v. Tuua (HSC April 20, 2011) Background. David Brown, a bouncer at a bar on Maui, was hit with a beer bottle in the middle of a fight at the bar. Lopeti Tuua was charged with assault in the second degree (HRS § 707-711(1)(d)). At his trial, fellow bouncer, Jason Inglish, and bartender, Renie Hamayelian, testified that they were working that night. Brown and Inglish testified that Tuua threw the bottle. Hamayelian testified that he and another customer had collected all of the bottles, except for one--the one in Tuua's hand before it broke. He also testified that he saw the broken bottle near Brown after it had been thrown. He never saw Tuua throw it. The parties also stipulated that Officer Polanco would have testified that when he arrived at the scene, he took Brown's statement. In that statement, Brown said that another man, Ikaika Kawai, threw the bottle that hit him. Tuua and his half-brother, Brandon Carter, testified for the defense. Both te

Unauthorized Possession Requires just, well, Possession

State v. Rodrigues (ICA April 20, 2011) Background. A man left his " waist pouch " in a company van, but did not realize it until the next day. He notified his bank. Two days later, Rodrigues went into a payday loan office to cash one of the man's checks written to her. The manager became suspicious, called a telephone number on the check, and learned that the check was stolen. The police investigated. The man denied writing a check for Rodrigues and that he did not know her. He also denied that that was his signature on the check. Rodrigues was charged with one count of unauthorized possession of confidential personal information and identity theft in the third degree. Rodrigues filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds that the counts merge. The circuit court disagreed with Rodrigues that the offenses merged, but granted her motion to dismiss on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to support the charges. The State appealed. Unaut

Hawaii Constitution Applies in State Prosecutions Using Federally-Obtained Evidence

State v. Torres (HSC April 15, 2011) Background. Gallegos was a cashier at the Pearl Harbor Naval Exchange. Gallegos received a canvas bag with $80,000 and went to the cashier's cage. Torres, a Pearl Harbor police officer, arrived even though he was not scheduled to work that day. Both Gallegos and Torres were seen leaving the base. The authorities were notified that Gallegos had abandoned his post and an all points bulletin to "detain and arrest" Torres and Gallegos was issued. Later that day, Pearl Harbor police saw Torres sitting in a line of cars. Torres was taken out of the line. When Torres rolled down his window to shake the officer's hand, the officer reached into Torres' vehicle and turned off the ignition. After a brief struggle, Torres complied, got out of the vehicle, and got arrested. Another officer moved the car and pursuant to base procedures, checked the car for flammables. When he opened the glove box, he found a revolver

ICA Rejects Birther's "Compelling" Need for President's Birth Certificate

Justice v. Fuddy (ICA April 7, 2011) Background. Dr. Robert Justice requested from the director of the State Department of Health an inspection of the original birth certificate for "Barack Hussein Obama II" based on the Uniform Information Practices Act (UIPA). Dr. Justice explained that the inspection would allow him "to determine whether or not Mr. Obama is eligible to hold the Office of President." The director denied the request. Dr. Justice filed a complaint seeking a judgment ordering the disclosure and inspection of the birth certificate. The DOH filed a motion to dismiss. Dr. Justice opposed on the grounds that HRS § 92F-12(b)(3) required all government agencies to disclose "records pursuant to a showing of compelling circumstances affecting the health or safety of any individual[.]" The circuit court granted the motion on the grounds that, inter alia, Dr. Justice failed to show circumstances affecting his health or safety. Dr.