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Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court–SCWC-16-0000647

Courts in the Community

No. SCWC-16-0000647, Thursday, April 26, 2018, 10 a.m.

STATE OF HAWAII, Respondent/Plaintiff-Appellee, vs. BRONSON KANEAIAKALA, Petitioner/Defendant-Appellant.

The above-captioned case has been set for argument on the merits at:

Kealakehe High School
74-5000 Puohulihuli St.
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740

Attorney for Petitioner:

Michael J. Park

Attorney for Respondent:

Loren J. Thomas, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney

NOTE: Order accepting Application for Writ of Certiorari, filed 02/02/18.

COURT: MER, CJ; PAN, SSM, RWP, and MDW, JJ.

[ Listen to the entire audio recording in mp3 format ]

Brief Description:

This is an eyewitness identification case involving inherently suggestive police procedure. The State of Hawai i (“State”) charged Bronson Kaneaiakala (“Kaneaiakala”) with one count of Burglary in the First Degree, in violation of Hawaii Revised Statutes (“HRS”) § 708-810(1)(c), based on an eyewitness identification. The eyewitness saw a man entering a ground-floor apartment through a window, and called 911. The eyewitness later identified Kaneaiakala as the suspect at a field show-up, where Kaneaiakala was handcuffed and surrounded by police officers.

When Kaneaiakala sought to suppress the eyewitness identification, the State stipulated to the fact that the procedure employed by the Honolulu Police Department (“HPD”) to procure the identification was impermissibly suggestive. The Circuit Court of the First Circuit (“circuit court”) found the identification nonetheless reliable and denied the motion to suppress. At jury trial, the State presented testimony by the eyewitness, a resident of the burglarized apartment, and two police officers. The jury found Kaneaiakala guilty as charged. The Intermediate Court of Appeals (“ICA”) affirmed the Judgment of Conviction and Sentence of the circuit court.

Kaneaiakala contends the ICA erred in two ways: (1) by concluding the circuit court did not err in denying his motion to suppress the eyewitness’s identification; and (2) by concluding that there was sufficient evidence at trial to convict him. Kaneaiakala argues the eyewitness’s identification should have been suppressed because it was unreliable and tainted by HPD’s show-up procedure. He asserts that without the identification, there was insufficient evidence to support his burglary conviction.