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Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court–No. SCWC-16-0000115

No. SCWC-16-0000115, Thursday, September 20, 2018, 10 a.m.

STATE OF HAWAI I, Respondent/Plaintiff-Appellee, vs. MUSTAFA BAKER, Petitioner/Defendant-Appellant.

The above-captioned case was 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:

Dwight C.H. Lum

Attorney for Respondent:

Sonja P. McCullen, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney

NOTE: Order accepting Application for Writ of Certiorari, filed 05/22/18.

NOTE: Order granting motion to postpone oral argument from 09/06/18 to 09/20/18 at 10:00 a.m., filed 07/30/18.

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

[ Listen to the entire audio recording in mp3 format ]

Brief Description:

Mustafa Baker was charged in the Circuit Court of the First Circuit (circuit court) with two counts of sexual assault in the first degree. Following his arrest, Baker was interviewed by a police detective; during the interrogation Baker admitted that he engaged in sexual conduct with the complaining witness against her will.

Prior to trial, the State of Hawaii filed a motion to determine the voluntariness of Baker’s statement to the detective, arguing that the statement was voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently made and that Baker had been informed of, and did validly waive, his Miranda rights. The defense contended that the statement was not voluntarily given because it was the product of coercion. The circuit court’s ruling allowed the State to introduce into evidence Baker’s statement with regard to the alleged sexual offenses.

The State also orally moved to redact from Baker’s statement his assertion that he had “been raped as a kid.” Over defense objection, the court excluded this portion of Baker’s statement, ruling that its probative value was substantially outweighed by the risk of undue prejudice. At the jury trial, a redacted version of Baker’s recorded statement was admitted into evidence and played for the jury.

The jury convicted Baker of both charges, and the State filed a motion for consecutive sentencing, requesting that Baker be sentenced to twenty years of imprisonment in each count, with the terms to run consecutively. At sentencing, the circuit court granted the State’s request for consecutive sentencing, stating that although Baker was young and had almost no record of criminal conduct, a consecutive sentence would reflect the seriousness of the offenses and promote respect for the law. Baker appealed his convictions to the Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA).

In a published opinion, the ICA determined that Baker’s statement to police was not the product of coercion and not rendered involuntary by the detective’s interrogation tactics, that Baker’s statement that he had “been raped as a kid” was properly excluded without violating his right to present a complete defense, and that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing Baker to consecutive terms of imprisonment, as the consecutive sentence did not amount to cruel and unusual punishment or violate the principle of Apprendi.

On certiorari, Baker contends that the circuit court erred in (1) determining that his statements in the police interview were voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently made, (2) redacting from his statement the assertion that he “had been raped as a kid,” and (3) sentencing him to consecutive terms of imprisonment. Baker also contends that the ICA erred in affirming these rulings of the circuit court and in concluding that the imposition of consecutive sentencing did not violate his constitutional rights under the Sixth Amendment and the Due Process Clause. The State contests Baker’s arguments on these issues.