Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court
No. SCWC-13-0001285, Friday, August 26, 2016, 10 a.m.
STATE OF HAWAIʻI, Respondent/Plaintiff-Appellee, vs. JOSHUA R.D. WILLIAMS, Petitioner/Defendant-Appellant.
The above-captioned case was set for argument on the merits at:
Supreme Court Courtroom
Aliʻiolani Hale, 2nd Floor
417 South King Street
Honolulu, HI 96813
Attorney for Petitioner:
Taryn R. Tomasa, Deputy Public Defender
Attorney for Respondent:
James M. Anderson, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney
NOTE: Order accepting Application for Writ of Certiorari, filed 07/21/16.
COURT: MER, C.J.; PAN, SSM, RWP, and MDW, JJ.
Petitioner/Defendant-Appellant Joshua R.D. Williams (Williams) seeks review of the Intermediate Court of Appeals’ (ICA) April 13, 2016 Judgment, which affirmed the Circuit Court of the First Circuit’s (circuit court) judgment convicting Williams of attempted murder in the second degree.
This case arises from the stabbing of the complainant by Williams while he was seated in the backseat of the complainant’s vehicle. Williams asserts that he stabbed the complainant in self-defense.
Prior to trial, Williams filed a Hawaiʻi Rules of Evidence (HRE) Rule 404(b) notice of prior bad acts. The HRE Rule 404(b) notice included statements allegedly made by the complainant in the weeks before the stabbing. Williams contends the statements were necessary to demonstrate his state of mind at the time of the stabbing and to demonstrate the complainant was the initial aggressor. The circuit court excluded and/or limited the statements raised in the HRE Rule 404(b) notice. A jury subsequently found Williams guilty of attempted murder in the second degree.
On appeal, the ICA determined 1) the limitations imposed by the circuit court did not impair Williams’ claim of self-defense and any error in the circuit court’s exclusion of the proffered statements was harmless error; 2) Williams’ waived the initial aggressor issue; and 3) even if Williams had raised this issue to the circuit court, the statements constituted unsubstantiated hearsay.
On certiorari, Williams raises the following issues:
Whether the ICA gravely erred in holding that the circuit court did not err in limiting and/or excluding the proffered evidence under HRE Rules 404(a)(2) and 404(b) because under its rationale (1) the proffered HRE Rule 404(a)(2) evidence was not probative because it constituted unsubstantiated hearsay; (2) and error in limiting and/or excluding any of the proffered evidence constituted harmless error because substantively equivalent evidence was introduced that satisfied Williams’ HRE Rule 404(b) request; and (3) Williams waived the HRE Rule 404(a)(2) issue.