Hundreds of domestic violence, DUI cases at risk after state Supreme Court ruling

The city Prosecutor’s Office said they’ll be asking lawmakers to pass a bill clarifying the statute.
Published: Jan. 4, 2022 at 5:48 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Hawaii Supreme Court decision is having a significant impact on misdemeanor cases, including those involving domestic violence and drunk driving.

At least one drunk driving case has already been dismissed because of the ruling and hundreds more are in jeopardy.

“It affects every single case that’s in district court ― so harassment, prostitution, minor drug offenses, DUIs,” said defense attorney Victor Bakke.

“The cases that will be most affected will be the domestic violence cases.”

Last month, the high court handed down a decision in a Hawaii Island family violence case ― state v. Corey Thompson.

Thompson was charged with abuse of a household or family member in 2016. But the ruling said the procedures violated a state statute that requires a signed affidavit from the victim.

Legal experts believe hundreds of cases could be dismissed without prejudice and prosecutors would be forced to refile.

Nanci Kreidman of the Domestic Violence Action Center said that could be a problem for victims of abuse. “There’s danger for her if she is required to put her signature on an affidavit,” she said.

In cases where there is no technical victim, such as a DUI arrest, the arresting officer would have to sign the complaint.

“They saw the traffic violation, they did the field sobriety, so they have the information necessary to get somebody on a DUI,” said defense attorney Jonathan Burge.

He’s already filed motions to dismiss about 70 DUI cases since the December ruling.

“It’s a procedural mistake that can be corrected and it will be corrected,” said Kurt Kendro, an advisory board member for Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Kendro said MADD hopes prosecutors will chose to refile the cases that are dismissed.

The city Prosecutor’s Office declined to comment for this story. But in a statement a spokesperson said the office has already changed its practices regarding filing of misdemeanor cases.

“The Department believes that its current practices are sufficient under the Hawaii Supreme Court’s recent decision. Nevertheless, we will be asking the Legislature to pass a bill clarifying the statute in question,” the statement said.

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