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Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court–No. SCWC-16-0000797

No. SCWC-16-0000797, Thursday, December 19, 2019, 8:45 a.m.

STATE OF HAWAII, Respondent/Plaintiff-Appellant, vs. JOSHUA LEE, Petitioner/Defendant-Appellee.

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

Supreme Court Courtroom
Aliiolani Hale, 2nd Floor
417 South King Street
Honolulu, HI 96813

Attorney for petitioner:

Alen M. Kaneshiro

Attorney for respondent:

Stephen K. Tsushima, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney

NOTE: Order accepting Application for Writ of Certiorari, filed 10/16/19.

COURT: Recktenwald, C.J., Nakayama, McKenna, Pollack, and Wilson, JJ.

Brief Description:

[ Listen to the entire audio recording in mp3 format ]

Honolulu Police Department officers responded to Petitioner/Defendant-Appellee Joshua Lee’s (Lee) home after his mother called police and reported that Lee was suicidal and had locked himself in his bedroom with samurai swords. Through his bedroom door, Lee told officers he was alright and asked them to leave. Eventually, officers were able to open the bedroom door and saw that Lee was not injured, but that he was brandishing a wooden sword. When the officers entered Lee’s bedroom, he threw two officers onto a couch and kneed one of them in the head. The officers did not have a warrant to enter Lee’s bedroom.

Lee was arrested and charged with Terroristic Threatening in the First Degree, Assault Against a Law Enforcement Officer in the First Degree, and Resisting Arrest. Lee moved to suppress evidence and statements (Motion to Suppress) obtained as a result of the warrantless search of his bedroom. The circuit court granted Lee’s Motion to Suppress, finding that Lee had a reasonable expectation of privacy in his bedroom and that neither the “exigent circumstances,” nor the “consent,” nor the “plain view” exceptions to the warrant requirement applied.

The State appealed the circuit court’s order. On appeal, the ICA vacated the circuit court’s order granting Lee’s Motion to Suppress, holding that pursuant to its decision in State v. Wilson, 141 Hawai i 385, 410 P.3d 865 (App. 2017), the emergency aid exception to the warrant requirement exists under article I, section 7 of the Hawai i Constitution. The ICA further held that Lee’s credible threat of suicide created an emergency situation such that the emergency aid exception applies in this case.

On application for writ of certiorari, Lee argues that this court should decline to adopt the emergency aid exception set forth by the ICA in Wilson because it is inconsistent with the enhanced privacy protections afforded by the Hawai i Constitution. Moreover, Lee argues that even if this court adopts the emergency aid exception, it does not apply in this case because there was no emergency, and if there was it was caused by the officers’ aggression toward Lee.