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Oral Argument Before the Supreme Court of the State of Hawaii

No. SCWC-14-0000352, Thursday, April 7, 2016, 11:15 a.m.


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:
    Ted H. S. Hong

Attorney for Respondent:
    Kimberly Tsumoto Guidry, First Deputy Solicitor General

NOTE: Certificate of Recusal, by Associate Justice Paula A. Nakayama, filed 12/28/15.

NOTE: Order assigning Circuit Court Judge Gary W.B. Chang, in place of Nakayama, J., recused, filed 12/30/15.

NOTE: Order accepting Application for Writ of Certiorari, filed 12/31/15.

COURT: MER, CJ; SSM, RWP, and MDW, JJ., and Circuit Court Judge Chang, in place of Nakayama, J., recused.

[ Listen to the entire audio recording in mp3 format ]

Brief Description:

        This case involves, inter alia, whether William Eric Boyd, an Administrative Assistant at Connections New Century Public Charter School

(Connections), was an “employee of the State” for the purpose of being bound by the conflict of interest provision of the Hawai`i State Code of

Ethics (Code of Ethics), Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes (HRS) § 84-14 (1993). 

        From 2006 to 2007, Boyd was authorized to submit purchase order forms for Connections to purchase certain school materials in accordance

with a procedure that Connections had developed with the help of hired auditors.  In his capacity as Administrative Assistant, Boyd prepared, signed

as a requestor, and/or preliminarily approved purchase order forms for requested school materials.  Some of the school materials were sold to

Connections through Boyd’s wife and fulfilled by an Amway distributorship that Boyd and his wife co-owned as a sole proprietorship (Amway Business).

        In 2007, Connections entered into a contract with Boyd Enterprises, a sole proprietorship co-owned by Boyd and his wife, to provide school

lunches for the spring semester.  Boyd submitted, pursuant to the school’s procedure, a “Food Service Certificate” reflecting the number of school

lunches provided and the total cost owed.  Connections’ principal and another administrative school official approved all Food Service Certificates

at issue. 

        A few years later, the Hawai`i State Ethics Commission (Commission) formally charged Boyd with nine counts of violating HRS § 84-14(a), for

requesting and approving the purchase of school materials from Amway Business, and eleven counts of violating HRS § 84-14(d), for assisting Boyd

Enterprises in transactions to provide school lunches to Connections.

        After a contested case hearing, the Commission concluded that Boyd was an “employee,” as defined in HRS § 84-3 (1993), subject to the Code

of Ethics, found Boyd had committed all twenty charged violations, and imposed fines in the amount of $10,000.  Boyd filed an appeal to the circuit

court, which  concluded that Boyd was an “employee of the State” subject to HRS Chapter 84, affirmed the violations based upon HRS § 84-14(a), and

reversed the violations based upon HRS § 84-14(d). 

        The Commission appealed, and Boyd cross-appealed, the circuit court’s judgment to the Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA). In its published

opinion, the ICA determined, inter alia, that the Commission had jurisdiction to bring charges against Boyd because he was a State employee and was

not exempt from the Code of Ethics. The ICA affirmed the violations under HRS § 84-14(a) and concluded that the circuit court erred in reversing the

HRS § 84-14(d) violations. 

        In his Application for Writ of Certiorari, Boyd contends that the ICA erred by (1) ruling that the ethics code violations do not require

proof of intent; (2) rendering a prior decision of the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court meaningless regarding proof of an ethics violation; and (3) extending

the limitations period, thereby violating Boyd’s due process right to a timely hearing. 

        In its Response, the Commission argues that (1) Boyd’s argument regarding failure to prove intent is frivolous; (2) the ICA did not overturn

legal precedent of this jurisdiction; and (3) the ICA properly concluded that the Commission did not violate any statutory timing requirements.

        Pursuant to court order, the parties filed supplemental memorandum addressing whether Boyd was an “employee of the State” under HRS § 84-3

and thus subject to HRS Chapter 84.  Boyd contends he was not an “employee of the State” subject to the Code of Ethics based upon the charter school

statute at HRS § 302B (2006 & Supp. 2007). The Commission responds that Boyd was a State employee bound by HRS Chapter 84 by application of HRS §

302B and a prior ICA decision.