Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court
No. SCWC-12-0001011, Thursday, May 14, 2015, 10 a.m.
STATE OF HAWAI`I, Respondent/Plaintiff-Appellee, vs. GREGORY A. KAZANAS, Petitioner/Defendant-Appellant.
The above-captioned case has been 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:
Randal I. Shintani
Attorney for Respondent:
Donn Fudo, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney
NOTE: Order accepting Application for Writ of Certiorari, filed 02/23/15.
COURT: MER, CJ; PAN, SSM, RWP, and MDW, JJ.
In this case, Petitioner/Defendant-Appellant Gregory Kazanas was charged and convicted of Unauthorized Entry into Motor Vehicle in the First Degree, in violation of HRS § 708-836.5. The charge stemmed from an incident that occurred on October 31, 2011, in which Kazanas allegedly jumped onto the back of a car, smashed its rear windshield, and grabbed and punched the car’s driver through the open window on the driver’s side.
After his arrest, Kazanas was transported to Queens Medical Center. It is undisputed that Kazanas was not given a Miranda warning. While at the hospital, Kazanas began making loud, rude comments. In an attempt to calm Kazanas down, the Honolulu Police Department police officer accompanying Kazanas asked him if he “enjoyed Halloween [and] what kind of costumes did he see. . . .” According to the officer, after they had been talking for a while, but unrelated to her questions, Kazanas spontaneously uttered, “If people didn’t upset me, I wouldn’t have to punch them.” The circuit court ruled that the statement was voluntary and admitted it at trial. At issue on certiorari is whether the officer’s question constituted “interrogation”; in other words, whether the officer “‘should have known that his [or her] words or actions were reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response’ from the person in custody.” State v. Ketchum, 97 Hawai?i 107, 119, 34 P.3d 1006, 1018 (2001) (citation omitted). Kazanas argues that he was subjected to custodial interrogation without the benefit of the Miranda warning; therefore, his statement should have been suppressed at trial.
Also at trial, Kazanas testified that he was physically incapable of committing the acts charged, because he was disabled from a prior nine-story fall from an apartment lanai. The State was then allowed to present evidence that, a few years after his fall, Kazanas had run, jumped, and punched other individuals in prior incidents (that led to convictions for assault and abuse of a family or household member). Kazanas argues on certiorari that the trial court improperly weighed the probative value of this evidence against the danger of prejudice to him.