Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court–SCWC-18-0000600
No. SCWC-18-0000600,Tuesday, August 18, 2020, 2 p.m.
STATE OF HAWAII, Respondent/Plaintiff-Appellee, vs. RAMONCITO D. ABION, 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 live-streamed for public viewing via the Judiciary’s YouTube channel at YouTube.com/hawaiicourts
Attorney for Petitioner:
Benjamin E. Lowenthal, Deputy Public Defender
Attorneys for Respondent:
Renee Ishikawa Delizo and Gerald K. Enriques, Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys
NOTE: Certificate of Recusal, by Associate Justice Richard W. Pollack, filed 05/15/20.
NOTE: Order assigning Circuit Court Judge Jeannette H. Castagnetti, in place of Pollack, J., recused, filed 05/15/20.
NOTE: Amended notice of setting for oral argument due to rescheduling from 08/20/20 at 2:00 p.m. to 08/18/20 at 2:00 p.m., filed 06/30/20.
COURT: Recktenwald, C.J., Nakayama, McKenna, and Wilson, JJ., and Circuit Court Judge Castagnetti, in place of Pollack, J., recused.
This case arises from the conviction of Petitioner/Defendant-Appellant Ramoncito Abion (“Abion”) after a jury trial for assault in the second degree. According to witness testimony at trial, Abion had been lying on his back and talking to himself in front of the gas station where the complaining witness (“CW”) worked. After the CW asked him to leave, Abion struck her on the head with a hammer.
At a pre-trial hearing before the Circuit Court of the Second Circuit (“circuit court”), Abion’s only witness, Dr. Martin Blinder (“Dr. Blinder”) testified that, in his opinion, Abion suffered from methamphetamine psychosis, that Abion was not under the influence of methamphetamine at the time of the incident, and that Abion may have a genetic predisposition for psychosis that was activated by methamphetamine use. After the hearing, the circuit court determined that a drug-induced mental illness was not a defense under HRS § 702-230 and State v. Young, 93 Hawai‘i 224, 999 P.2d 230 (2000). The circuit court precluded Dr. Blinder from testifying at trial.
At trial, Abion asserted an HRS § 704-400 physical or mental disease, disorder, or defect defense. Abion called no witnesses, and the jury found Abion guilty of assault in the second degree.
On certiorari, Abion contends the exclusion of his only witness violated his due process right to present a complete defense and undermined the jury’s role to resolve ultimate issues of fact.