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Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court–SCWC-13-0004085

No. SCWC-13-0004085, Thursday, January 19, 2017, 11:15 a.m.

STATE OF HAWAI I, Petitioner/Plaintiff-Appellee, vs. BENJAMIN M. QUIDAY, Respondent/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:

Stephen K. Tsushima, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney

Attorney for Respondent:

Jon N. Ikenaga, Deputy Public Defender

NOTE: Order accepting Application for Writ of Certiorari, filed 10/31/16.


[ Listen to the entire audio recording in mp3 format ]

Brief Description:

This case arose when the police received an anonymous tip reporting that marijuana plants were being grown at a residence. Police conducted aerial surveillance of the residence and observed marijuana plants along the side of the residence. The plants were not visible at ground-level, as the residence was surrounded by fences and gates.

Based on the police’s observations during the course of their aerial surveillance efforts, the police obtained a search warrant for the defendant’s house. Upon execution of the search warrant, the police recovered marijuana and other drug-related paraphernalia. The defendant filed a motion to suppress all of the evidence obtained during the execution of the search warrant, alleging that the fly-overs violated his reasonable expectation of privacy, and therefore, were unconstitutional “searches” under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and article I section 7 of the Hawaiʻi Constitution. The circuit court denied the motion. On appeal, the ICA vacated the circuit court’s findings of fact, conclusions of law, and order denying the defendant’s motion to suppress.

In its application for writ of certiorari (AWC), the State raises three points of error: (1) The ICA majority “gravely erred in holding that a relevant factor discussed in both Stachler and Knight was the ‘targeted’ nature of the aerial surveillance;” (2) The ICA majority erred in holding that whether the observed premises is urban or rural is relevant to the constitutionality of aerial surveillance of such practices and; (3) “The ICA majority gravely erred in interpreting Article I, Section 7 of the Hawaiʻi Constitution to protect an individual from targeted aerial surveillance of the individual’s residence and its curtilage” and concluding that Quiday had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the area where the marijuana plants were located.