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Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court — SCWC-17-0000581

No. SCWC-17-0000581, Friday, March 19, 2021, 10 a.m.

STATE OF HAWAIʻI, Respondent/Plaintiff-Appellee, vs. ALLAN MICHAEL G. FELICIANO, aka ALLAN M. GAMON FELICIANO, Petitioner/Defendant-Appellant.

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

The oral argument was held remotely and live streamed for public viewing via the Judiciary’s YouTube channel at YouTube.com/hawaiicourts.

Attorney for Petitioner:

William H. Jameson, Jr., Deputy Public Defender

Attorneys for Respondent:

Linda L. Walton, Stephen L. Frye, and Charles E. Murray III, Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys

NOTE: Order accepting Application for Writ of Certiorari, filed 12/30/20.

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

Listen to the entire audio recording in mp3 format  ]

Brief Description:

This case arises from a charge of abuse of family or household member in violation of Hawaii Revised Statutes (“HRS”) § 709-906(1) (Supp. 2016) in the Family Court of the Third Circuit (“family court”). Defendant was charged with striking his wife, the complaining witness (“the CW”), in the early morning hours of January 14, 2017.

Before trial, the defendant moved to exclude evidence of a previous incident in which he pushed the CW out of a chair (“chair incident”). The family court ruled that if the “door was opened” to the CW’s marijuana use, the State could admit evidence of the chair incident. The family court ultimately allowed evidence of the chair incident with limiting instructions, and the jury convicted defendant as charged.

The Intermediate Court of Appeals (“ICA”) majority ruled the family court did not abuse its discretion in allowing evidence of the chair incident. The ICA majority concluded (1) the family court properly admitted evidence of the chair incident under the “opening the door” doctrine because the defendant offered evidence that could be shown to be false or misleading in isolation; (2) the chair incident was also properly admitted under Hawaii Rules of Evidence (“HRE”) Rule 404(b) (1994) as prior-bad-act evidence; and (3) the family court’s limiting instructions mitigated any unfair prejudice from admission of the chair incident. Judge Leonard dissented. On certiorari, the defendant contests the ICA majority’s rulings.