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Oral Arguments before the Hawai`i Supreme Court

NO. 26995 – Thursday, September 4, 2008 – 9:00 a.m.

PETER B. CARLISLE, in his official capacity as the Prosecuting Attorney of the City & County of Honolulu, on behalf of the State of Hawai`i, Respondent/Petitioner-Appellant, vs. ONE (1) BOAT, 18.5 FEET WITH FIBERGLASS HULL, BLUE & WHITE IN COLOR, REGISTRATION NO. HA 2709 D, HULL IDENTIFICATION NO. GLA72495M77G, WITH TRAILER, SERIAL NO. 5UD051894HDNWP, AND GAS ENGINE WITH WINCH SYSTEM (ESTIMATED VALUE: $4,000.00); ONE (1) EVINRUDE BRAND OUTBOARD ENGINE, 112 HORSEPOWER, SERIAL NO. G04072044, AND ONE (1) EVINRUDE BRAND OUTBOARD ENGINE, 30 HORSEPOWER, SERIAL NO. G03586474 (ESTIMATED VALUE: $1,000.00); TWO (2) MONOFILAMENT GILL NETS, EACH APPROXIMATELY 1500 FEET IN LENGTH (ESTIMATED VALUE: $3,000.00) (AGGREGATE ESTIMATED VALUE: $8,000.00), Defendant. DANG VAN TRAN and SANG TRAN, Petitioners/Interested Persons-Appellees. (Motor Vehicle Tort)

Attorney(s) for Petitioners/Interested Persons-Appellee(s)
Bryan Y. Y. Ho

Attorney(s) for Respondent/Petitioner-Appellant(s)
Honorable Peter B. Carlisle, Prosecuting Attorney, and Charlotte J. Duarte, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, City & County of Honolulu


[ Listen to the entire audio recording in mp3 format ]

Brief description

On June 26, 2008, this court accepted petitioner/interested persons-appellees Dang Van Tran and Sang Tran’s [hereinafter, collectively, the Trans] application for a writ of certiorari to review the Intermediate Court of Appeals’ (ICA) March 17, 2008 judgment on appeal and its February 27, 2008 published opinion. Therein, the ICA vacated, inter alia, the Circuit Court of the First Circuit’s December 6, 2004 judgment, entered pursuant to its grant of the Trans’ motion to dismiss the verified petition for forfeiture of property brought by respondent/petitioner-appellant Peter Carlisle, Prosecuting Attorney, on behalf of the State of Hawai`i (the State).

The State’s forfeiture proceeding was based upon the seizure of the Trans’ boat and other items by Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) officers while on patrol off the Wai`anae coast on October 14, 2000. DLNR officers seized the Trans’ property based upon the alleged illegal taking of (a) stony coral, in violation of Hawai`i Administrative Regulations (HAR) § 13-95-70 (1998), and (b) live rock, in violation of HAR § 13-95-71 (1998). Although the Trans successfully obtained dismissal of the State’s petition on February 1, 2002, no judgment was entered in the case until December 6, 2004. The State subsequently appealed and prevailed.

On application, the Trans challenge the ICA’s jurisdiction based upon the purported untimely filing of the State’s appeal. The Trans also argue that the property was not subject to forfeiture because the charged offenses were not “covered offenses” that specifically authorized forfeiture, as required by HRS § 712A-4.