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Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court

No. SCWC-13-0000059, Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014, 10 a.m.

STATE OF HAWAI`I, Respondent/Plaintiff-Appellee, vs. EDDIE A. GARCIA, Petitioner/Defendant-Appellant.

The above-captioned case was set for argument on the merits at:

Supreme Court Courtroom
Ali`iolani Hale, 2nd Floor
417 South King Street
Honolulu, HI 96813

Attorney for Petitioner:  Benjamin E. Lowenthal

Attorney for Respondent:  Richard K. Minatoya, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney

NOTE: Order accepting Application for Writ of Certiorari, filed 06/25/14.

COURT: MER, C.J.; PAN, SSM, RWP, & MDW, JJ.

[ Listen to the entire audio recording in mp3 format ]

Brief Description:

This appeal arises out of a dispute over whether the State breached its plea agreement with Eddie A. Garcia (Garcia). In the plea agreement, the State agreed to “remain silent at the minimum term hearing” before the Hawai?i Paroling Authority (HPA). Prior to Garcia’s sentencing hearing in the Family Court of the Second Circuit (family court), the Deputy Prosecuting Attorney assigned (Prosecutor) submitted a letter and three exhibits for inclusion in Garcia’s pre-sentence investigation (PSI) report. Garcia then filed a motion to withdraw his no contest plea, arguing that the Prosecutor breached the plea agreement because the Prosecutor knew that the letter and exhibits would be transmitted to the HPA for its consideration at the minimum term hearing.

The family court denied Garcia’s motion and held that the Prosecutor did not breach the plea agreement because Garcia filed his motion before sentencing and therefore the PSI report containing the Prosecutor’s submission could be intercepted before it reached the HPA. The family court ordered that the PSI report be struck from the record and kept under seal, ordered that a new PSI report be prepared by a probation officer other than the one who prepared the first report, and prohibited the State from communicating with the probation officer responsible for preparing the new PSI report. Garcia was subsequently sentenced in accordance with the terms of the plea agreement. Garcia timely appealed on the basis of the Prosecutor’s alleged breach, and the Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA) affirmed.

Garcia raises the following question in his application:

Did the ICA commit grave error by departing from well-established precedent and concluding that the prosecutor’s submission of a detailed letter and three exhibits in a presentence investigation report headed to the Hawai`i Paroling Authority was not a breach of her promise to stand silent at the minimum term hearing?