Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court–No. SCWC-13-0000132
No. SCWC-13-0000132, Thursday, March 2, 2017, 11:15 a.m.
STATE OF HAWAI I, Respondent/Plaintiff-Appellee, vs. RAINIER ACACIO, 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:
Jon Ikenaga, Deputy Public Defender
Attorney for Respondent:
Brian R. Vincent, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney
NOTE: Order accepting Application for Writ of Certiorari, filed 12/21/16.
COURT: MER, CJ; PAN, SSM, RWP, and MDW, JJ.
On January 11, 2012, Respondent/Plaintiff-Appellee the State of Hawai i (the State) charged Petitioner/Defendant-Appellant Rainier Acacio (Acacio) with one count of terroristic threatening in the first degree pursuant to HRS § 707-716(1)(e) and one count of abuse of a family or household member pursuant to HRS § 709-906(1) and (5) for events arising from a domestic dispute between Acacio and his then-girlfriend, the complaining witness (the CW).
Two issues arose during Acacio’s jury trial that are on appeal before this court.
First, defense counsel asked the CW on cross-examination about her knowledge of Acacio’s immigration status and whether the CW knew that Acacio could face deportation if he was arrested. The State objected. Despite defense counsel’s argument that these questions and answers were relevant to establish the CW’s bias or motive, the circuit court stopped this line of questioning and instructed the jury to disregard any comments concerning Acacio’s immigration status.
Second, during the State’s direct-examination of the police officer who initially responded to the domestic dispute, the police officer testified that Acacio had stated that he and the CW “just had an argument.” This statement was not in the police report and had not been disclosed by the State prior to the trial. The circuit court held that this was a violation of Hawai i Rules of Penal Procedure (HRPP) Rule 16, but that it did not warrant a mistrial because other corrective actions could be taken.
Acacio was found guilty of terroristic threatening and was sentenced to five years of probation. The ICA affirmed Acacio’s conviction and sentence. On application before this court, Acacio raises three questions for review:
1. Whether the ICA gravely erred in holding the Circuit Court did not err when it precluded him from questioning the complaining witness (“CW”) on her knowledge of his immigration status?
2. Whether the ICA gravely erred in holding that the Circuit Court did not abuse its discretion in denying his motion for a mistrial where it failed to disclose Acacio’s statement to Officer Tataki during discovery?
3. Whether the ICA gravely erred in failing to hold a voluntariness on the admissibility of his statement to Officer Tataki before presenting that statement to the jury?