Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court
No. SCWC-13-0002469, Thursday, April 9, 2015, 5:30 p.m.
STATE OF HAWAI`I, Respondent/Plaintiff-Appellee, vs. SUSAN CHIN, Petitioner/Defendant-Appellant.
The above-captioned case was set for argument on the merits at:
University of Hawaii at Manoa
William S. Richardson School of Law
2515 Dole Street
Honolulu, HI 96822
Attorney for Petitioner:
William A. Harrison
Attorney for Respondent:
Sonja P. McCullen, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney
NOTE: Order accepting Application for Writ of Certiorari, filed 01/30/15.
COURT: MER, CJ; PAN, SSM, RWP, and MDW, JJ.
On December 22, 2014, Petitioner/Defendant-Appellant Susan Chin (Chin) filed an Application for Writ of Certiorari (Application) from the Judgment on Appeal, filed by the Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA) on December 5, 2014. The ICA affirmed the Circuit Court of the First Circuit’s (circuit court) October 29, 2014 Judgment of Conviction and Sentence.
Chin was found guilty after a jury trial of the offenses of theft in the first degree and money laundering. Chin filed a Motion for New Trial on the basis that a communication that took place during trial between the jury foreperson and a defense witness was prejudicial and denied her a fair trial. During the hearing on the Motion for New Trial, the circuit court denied Chin permission to question the jurors or to have the court do so regarding the communication. The court denied the motion at the conclusion of the hearing.
In her Application, Chin presents the question of whether her right to a fair trial was violated when the circuit court did not grant her a new trial. Chin argues that the communication that took place between the jury foreperson and her witness was presumptively prejudicial warranting the circuit court to at least question the jury foreperson regarding the communication and that she is also entitled to a new trial because of the circuit court’s refusal to conduct questioning. The State maintains that Chin failed to make a prima facie showing of deprivation that could substantially prejudice her right to a fair trial. The State asserts the circuit court was under no duty to recall the jury foreperson for questioning because Chin did not present any evidence to the court showing such a deprivation or that the jury was biased.