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Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court–SCWC-17-0000898

No. SCWC-17-0000898, Friday, November 13, 2020, 8:45 a.m.

STATE OF HAWAII, Respondent/Plaintiff-Appellee, vs. SAMSON K. KEANAAINA, petitioner/Defendant-Appellant.

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

The oral argument will be held remotely and will be livestreamed for public viewing via the Judiciary’s YouTube channel at

Attorney for Petitioner: 

Victor M. Cox

Attorney for Respondent: 

Stephen L. Frye, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney

NOTE: Order assigning Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey P. Crabtree due to a vacancy, filed 07/02/20.

NOTE: Order accepting Application for Writ of Certiorari, filed 08/13/20.

COURT: Recktenwald, C.J., Nakayama, McKenna, and Wilson, JJ., and Circuit Judge Crabtree, assigned by reason of vacancy.

[ Listen to the entire audio recording in mp3 format ]

Brief Description:

This case arises from the conviction of Petitioner/Defendant-Appellant Samson K. Keanaaina (Keanaaina) for various drug crimes after police executed a search warrant on a tent structure and found drugs in Keanaaina’s backpack. Keanaaina, who is hearing impaired, was asleep when police executed the search warrant and did not hear the officers announcing their presence. In the tent, police officers seized, among other things, two backpacks which contained drugs and drug paraphernalia. Police discovered Keanaaina’s identification cards in one of the backpacks after they removed the backpack to the police station.

At trial, Keanaaina unsuccessfully moved to suppress the evidence obtained as a result of the search of the tent structure. Before deliberations, a juror (Juror #7) was dismissed after disclosing to the circuit court that she was neighbors with one of the State’s witnesses.

On application for writ of certiorari, Keanaaina presents four arguments: (1) that the ICA erred in affirming the circuit court’s denial of Keanaaina’s motion to suppress due to noncompliance with “knock and announce” procedure and due to the improper search of Keanaaina’s backpack; (2) that the ICA erred in holding that any error in the circuit court’s decision not to immediately excuse Juror #7 was harmless; (3) that the ICA erred in concluding that Keanaaina did not receive ineffective assistance of counsel; and (4) that any error in admitting evidence obtained as a result of the State’s search warrant was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.