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Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court–SCWC-18-0000361

No. SCWC-18-0000361, Tuesday, August 18, 2020, 10 a.m.

WW, Petitioner/Petitioner-Appellant, vs. DS and CHILD SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT AGENCY, STATE OF HAWAI I, Respondents/Respondents-Appellees.

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

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

Attorney for Petitioner WW:

Richard E. Mitchell

Attorneys for Respondent DS:

Robert H. Thomas and Joanna C. Zeigler of Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert

NOTE: Order accepting Application for Writ of Certiorari, filed 03/02/20.

NOTE: Order assigning Circuit Court Judge Matthew J. Viola due to a vacancy, filed 07/06/20.

COURT: Recktenwald, C.J., Nakayama, McKenna, and Wilson, JJ., and Circuit Court Judge Viola due to a vacancy.

[ Listen to the entire audio recording in mp3 format ]

[ Watch the video with captions ]

Brief Description:

This case involves a custody dispute between WW (Father) and DS (Mother) that proceeded to a bench trial in the Family Court of the Second Circuit. During a recess, the family court met with the parties’ attorneys and encouraged settlement. The court also met with both parties in chambers individually, without counsel present and without obtaining the consent of counsel on the record. Father contends that during his individual meeting with the court, he was pressured into agreeing to settle.

The parties thereafter reached a settlement agreement, which they put on the record, and Mother’s counsel drafted a stipulated order. Father contested the stipulated order as inconsistent with the record and appealed to the Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA). The ICA vacated the order and remanded the case to the family court for an order consistent with the agreement the parties had put on the record.

On certiorari, Father asks this court to determine whether the ICA gravely erred (1) by not remanding the case to the family court to be retried, and (2) by not acknowledging that the family court’s “unilateral decision to abruptly end the evidentiary hearing and call parties into chambers without their respective legal counsel was an abuse of discretion resulting in the failure to provide both parties their due process.”