Oral Argument before the Hawaii Supreme Court – SCWC-21-0000530
No. SCWC-21-0000530, Thursday, August 24, 2023, 10 a.m.
STATE OF HAWAI‘I, Respondent/Plaintiff-Appellee, vs. MICHAEL PICKELL, Petitioner/Defendant-Appellant.
The above-captioned case has been set for oral argument on the merits at:
Supreme Court Courtroom
Ali‘iōlani Hale, 2nd Floor
417 South King Street
Honolulu, HI 96813
The oral argument will also be livestreamed for public viewing via the Judiciary’s YouTube channel at YouTube.com/hawaiicourts and Olelo TV 55.
Attorney for Petitioner Michael Pickell:
William H. Jameson Jr., Deputy Public Defender
Attorney for Respondent State of Hawai‘i:
Renee Ishikawa Delizo, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney
NOTE: Order assigning Circuit Judge Fa‘auuga To‘oto‘o and Circuit Judge James H. Ashford due to vacancies, filed 06/02/23.
NOTE: Order accepting Application for Writ of Certiorari, filed 06/13/23.
COURT: Recktenwald, C.J., McKenna and Eddins, JJ., and Circuit Judge To‘oto‘o and Circuit Judge Ashford, assigned by reason of vacancies
This case arises out of defendant Michael Pickell’s (“Pickell”) Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence of an Intoxicant (“OVUII”) conviction in the District Court of the Second Circuit (“district court”). A Maui police officer saw Pickell in the left-turn-only lane at the intersection of Piʻilani Highway and Ohukai Road. The left-turn-only lane had left-turn-only markings painted on the pavement and there was a sign that stated left-turn-only on the overhanging light. Pickell made a U-turn instead of making a left turn. The officer believed Pickell’s U-turn was illegal and initiated a traffic stop. During the traffic stop, the officer suspected Pickell was under the influence of alcohol and subsequently arrested Pickell for OVUII.
Before trial, Pickell filed a motion to suppress, arguing the officer did not have a warrant to initiate a traffic stop. The district court denied the motion. Pickell then filed a motion for reconsideration, arguing that his U-turn was legal under the Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes (“HRS”) and Maui County Code (“MCC”). Specifically, Pickell contended that he was allowed to make a U-turn unless there was a sign prohibiting U-turns at the intersection. See HRS § 291C-82(c) (“The . . . counties by ordinance . . . shall place signs which are clearly visible to an ordinarily observant person prohibiting the turning of a vehicle to proceed in the opposite direction [i.e., a ‘U-turn’].”); MCC § 10.24.140 (1965) (“Whenever authorized signs are erected indicating that no right or left or “U” turn is permitted, no operator of a vehicle shall disobey the directions of any such sign.”) Pickell pointed out that there was no sign prohibiting U-turns at the intersection of Piʻilani Highway and Ohukai Road. The district court denied Pickell’s motion for reconsideration, and Pickell entered a conditional plea of no contest and his sentence was stayed pending appeal.
On appeal, Pickell repeated the arguments he made in the district court. The Intermediate Court of Appeals (“ICA”) affirmed the district court’s decision, concluding that Pickell was required to make a left turn pursuant to HRS §§ 291C-31(a) and -81(3) and MCC §§ 10.24.100(B) and (E) (which all govern obedience to traffic devices or signs), even though there was no sign prohibiting a U-turn. In his application for writ of certiorari, Pickell argues that the ICA erroneously affirmed the district court’s decision because his U-turn was not prohibited by a sign as required by HRS § 291C-82(c).