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Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court–No. SCWC-18-0000010

No. SCWC-18-0000010, Thursday, June 20, 2019, 11:15 a.m.


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:

Peter L. Steinberg

Attorneys for Respondent:

Julio C. Herrera, Ian T. Tsuda, Kurt J. Shimamoto, and Patrick A. Pascual, Deputy Attorneys General

NOTE: Order accepting Application for Writ of Certiorari, filed 05/23/19.

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

[ Listen to the entire audio recording in mp3 format ]

Brief Description:

This case arises from a child welfare proceeding for AB. After being placed in temporary foster custody, AB was reunified with her father, and lived in a home with him, his longtime girlfriend, KL, and their child, AB’s half-sister. Subsequently, AB’s father left and foster custody was reinstated. AB remained with KL for over a year until AB left to visit her extended relatives in another state for the summer. The Family Court then changed AB’s placement to that state.

Through the Department of Human Services (Department), AB’s relatives in the other state filed a petition to adopt AB. KL also filed a petition to adopt AB, when she found out that AB would not be returning from the other state.

KL’s appeal challenged the Family Court’s rulings in the child welfare proceeding, in which the Family Court (1) awarded permanent custody to the Department after terminating parental rights; (2) changed AB’s placement from Hawaii to the other state; (3) denied KL’s motion to intervene; and (4) denied her motion for reconsideration. The ICA dismissed KL’s challenges to the permanent custody and placement decisions on jurisdictional grounds. However, the ICA vacated the Family Court’s orders denying intervention and denying reconsideration, holding that because KL had filed a post-termination petition for adoption, she had a sufficient interest in AB’s custody or visitation to intervene as a matter of right. The ICA remanded this case to the Family Court for further proceedings.

On certiorari, KL argues that: (z1) the Family Court’s orders constituted plain error; (2) HRAP Rule 2 should apply to excuse any untimeliness in her appeals; (3) her status as a hānai relative conferred a substantive interest in AB’s placement, such that she was entitled to request a contested hearing before AB’s placement was changed to the other state; and (4) by failing to hold such a hearing, the Family Court violated due process.