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Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court — No. SCWC-15-0000865

No. SCWC-15-0000865, Tuesday, December 19, 2017, 10 a.m.

STATE OF HAWAI`I, Respondent/Plaintiff-Appellant, vs. MATTHEW SEAN SASAI, Petitioner/Defendant-Appellee (CAAP-15-0000865). STATE OF HAWAI`I, Respondent/Plaintiff-Appellant/Cross-Appellee, vs. BRENT N. TANAKA, Petitioner/Defendant-Appellee/Cross-Appellant (CAAP-15-0000866).

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

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

Attorneys for Petitioners:

James S. Tabe and Audrey L. Stanley, Deputy Public Defenders

Attorney for Respondent:

Brian R. Vincent, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney

NOTE: Order accepting Application for Writ of Certiorari, filed 10/31/17.

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

[ Listen to the entire audio recording in mp3 format ]

Brief Description:

In this consolidated appeal, Petitioners Matthew Sean Sasai and Brent N. Tanaka (collectively, “Petitioners”) seek review of the Intermediate Court of Appeals’ (“ICA”) June 30, 2017 Summary Disposition Order (“SDO”), which vacated a district court order dismissing their respective cases with prejudice.

Petitioners were each charged with one count of Prostitution in violation of Hawaii Revised Statutes (“HRS”) § 712-1200(1)(b)(2014). In their motions to dismiss, Petitioners argued that the charges violated their due process and equal protection rights because HRS § 712-1200(1)(b) carried a higher penalty than subsection (1)(a) for the same conduct. The district court agreed and dismissed their charges with prejudice. The State of Hawai‘i appealed.

An ICA majority vacated the district court’s order, determining that HRS § 712-1200(1)(a) applied only to the sellers of sex and subsection (1)(b) pertained only to buyers, and therefore subsections (1)(a) and (1)(b) prohibited different conduct. One ICA judge dissented, agreeing with the district court that someone charged under HRS § 712-1200(1)(b) could instead be charged under subsection (1)(a), and that subsection (1)(b) carried a harsher penalty by virtue of ineligibility for deferred acceptance of a guilty or no contest plea.

 On certiorari, Petitioners assert the ICA erred in vacating the district court’s order granting dismissal.