Showing posts from January, 2020

HSC Expands Deferrals to Offenses Outside the Penal Code

State v. Medeiros (HSC December 20, 2019) Background. Kaohulani Medeiros was charged with place to keep unloaded firearms, place to keep ammunition, a hunting hours violation, and prohibited use of an artificial light—the latter two were violations of HAR § 13-123-6 and 7. Medeiros pleaded not guilty and moved to suppress the evidence. At the hearing, DLNR officers testified that they were on patrol between Kaupo and Ulupalakua at night on the leeward side of Haleakala. They stopped at a vista and saw a gray Toyota pickup truck pass by and started to see the “panning of a light.” The light was coming from the driver’s side and slowly moved down the highway. This, the officers testified, was commonly used to track and hunt animals like deer on the side of the road. The officers tried to pursue the truck, but lost sight of it. Minutes later a truck similar to the one they observed drove past them in the opposite direction. The officers stopped the truck. Medeiros was in the vehi

Questionable Peremptory Challenges, Rogue Jurors, and Other Misconducts

Background. Joseph Pitts was indicted for attempted murder in the 2d degree. Pitts and his friend Jason Brown were driving to the airport to pick up a mutual friend. On the way to the airport, Brown asked Pitts to stop to see a person named “Niki” who lived under a tree. They stopped at the location and both got out of the car. Brown lit a cigarette and was hit. Brown testified he saw Pitts but was frantic. He was stabbed in the neck and arms. He ran down the hill to a guard in a shack and announced “a black guy up there . . . just stabbed me.” He was positive Pitts was his assailant. Prior to trial, Pitts moved to exclude evidence that Pitts accused Brown of raping or sleeping with his girlfriend and that he demanded Brown apologize to him. The prosecution noted that there was no evidence of Pitts’ suspicions before Brown was stabbed. The circuit court, presided by the Hon. Judge Rom Trader, granted the motion. During jury selection, a potential juror expressed herself abou

Removing Life Support Might be an Intervening Cause to Murder, but not a Defense

State v. Abella (HSC December 17, 2019) Background. Michael Abella was indicted for murder in the second degree. At trial the prosecution presented evidence that on a night in July 2014, at the corner of Smith and Pauahi Streets in Chinatown Abella stood over Shelton Higa and was violently kicking and punching him. A group of people intervened and stopped him. Abella left the area. The police soon intervened. Higa was conscious and filled out some paperwork. The police testified that they could smell the odor of alcohol on Higa’s breath. The medics also arrived and checked him out. He appeared stable and refused a ride in the ambulance to the hospital. About an hour later the ambulance returned to the scene. Higa was rolling around on the ground screaming and yelling. He was transported to Queen’s, where he was combative, agitated, and had “significantly high” blood pressure. He fell unconscious and remained in a coma. Treating physicians testified and concluded that Higa had suffe