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State v. Casugay-Badiang

Supreme Court of Hawaii

June 28, 2013

STATE OF HAWAI'I, Respondent/Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
RUBIN IKOA CASUGAY-BADIANG, Petitioner/Defendant-Appellee.

CERTIORARI TO THE INTERMEDIATE COURT OF APPEALS (CAAP-11-0000802; CR. NO. 11-1-0523).

Ronette M. Kawakami, (Summer M. M. Kupau with her on the briefs) for petitioner.

James M. Anderson for respondent.

ACOBA, MCKENNA, AND POLLACK, JJ., WITH RECKTENWALD, C.J., DISSENTING SEPARATELY, WITH WHOM NAKAYAMA, J., JOINS.

AMENDED OPINION

MCKENNA, J.

I. Introduction

The sole issue before this court is whether a sentencing court has the discretion to sentence a defendant convicted of violating Hawai'i Revised Statutes ("HRS") § 712-1240.8 (1993 & Supp. 2006) (Methamphetamine Trafficking in the Second Degree)[1]under HRS § 706-667 (1993 & Supp. 2006) (the "Young Adult Defendants" statute).[2] Specifically, the issue is whether the phrase "Notwithstanding sections 706-620, 706-640, 706-641, 706-660, 706-669, and any other law to the contrary, " found in the sentencing provision of HRS § 712-1240.8, overrides sentencing under HRS § 706-667 as "contrary." We hold that it does not. Therefore, we reverse the ICA's Judgment on Appeal, and affirm the circuit court's Judgment of Conviction and Sentence and Order Denying Motion to Correct Illegal Sentence.

II. Background

Petitioner/Defendant-Appellee Rubin Ikoa Casugay-Badiang ("Casugay-Badiang") pled guilty to two counts of Methamphetamine Trafficking in the Second Degree, in violation of HRS § 712-1240.8. At Casugay-Badiang's sentencing hearing, both the prosecution and defense requested a minimum sentence of one year in prison, presumably under HRS § 712-1240.8(3), because Casugay-Badiang had no prior criminal record.

The circuit court, [3] on the other hand, sua sponte raised the issue of whether it possessed the discretion to sentence Casugay-Badiang under HRS § 706-667. The circuit court reasoned that it did retain such discretion because HRS § 712-1240.8(3) expressly excluded sentencing under HRS §§ 706-620, -640, -641, -660, and -669, but HRS § 706-667 was not among that list. The circuit court recognized that HRS § 712-1240.8(3) included an additional phrase "and any other law to the contrary, " following the five enumerated statutes. To the circuit court, however, the fact that HRS § 706-667 was not among the enumerated statutes "still ke[pt HRS §] 706-667 in play." The circuit court then sentenced Casugay-Badiang to a "concurrent term of imprisonment of five (5) years in Counts I and II, as a young adult defendant (pursuant to §706-667, H.R.S.), with a mandatory minimum of one (1) year."

The State then filed its Motion to Correct Illegal Sentence, in which it argued that the circuit court's decision to sentence Casugay-Badiang under HRS § 706-667 "runs contrary to the law imposing sentence upon offenders under HRS § 712-1240.8." At a hearing on the motion, the State rested on its briefing, but defense counsel argued that (1) if the legislature intended for HRS § 712-1240.8(3) to override HRS § 706-667, then it would have included HRS § 706-667 among the five enumerated statutes in HRS § 712-1240.8(3); and (2) if the legislature intended HRS § 706-667 not to apply to methamphetamine trafficking, then it would have amended that statute to include that offense along with murder and attempted murder in HRS § 706-667(3).

The circuit court added that it believed that it could still sentence Casugay-Badiang under HRS § 706-667 because that statute "mitigated, " but was not "contrary" to, the sentencing scheme set forth in HRS § 712-1240.8(3). The circuit court issued an Order Denying Motion to Correct Illegal Sentence. The State timely appealed the circuit court's Judgment of Conviction and Sentence and its Order Denying Motion to Correct Illegal Sentence.

Before the ICA, the State argued the following:

The circuit court abused its discretion in sentencing [Casugay-Badiang] to five years imprisonment under HRS § 706-667 as a young adult defendant, where HRS § 712-1240.8(3) provides: Notwithstanding sections 706-620, 706-640, 706-641, 706-660, 706-669, and any other law to the contrary, a person convicted of methamphetamine trafficking in the second degree shall be sentenced to an indeterminate term of imprisonment of ten years with a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of not less than one year and not greater than four years and a fine not to exceed $10, 000, 000 [.]

(Emphasis in original). The State essentially argued that the plain language of HRS § 712-1240.8(3) mandated sentencing under that statute. In support of its interpretation, the State pointed out that the phrase "notwithstanding any other law to the contrary" in a sentencing provision has previously been construed by this court, in State v. Dannenberg, 74 Haw. 75, 837 P.2d 776 (1992), as limiting the discretion of the trial court to take into account any other statutory sentencing scheme. The State further argued that HRS § 706-667 is "contrary" to HRS § 712-1240.8(3), because a five-year indeterminate term under HRS § 706-667 is "completely different" from a ten-year indeterminate term under HRS § 712-1240.8(3).

The ICA agreed with the State. It vacated the circuit court's Judgment of Conviction and Sentence and remanded this case for re-sentencing under HRS § 712-1240.8. See State v. Casugay-Badiang, 128 Hawai'i 370, 374, 289 P.3d 1006, 1010 (2012). It held:

HRS § 712-1240.8 clearly precludes the applicability of sentencing as a young adult defendant under HRS §706-667 for cases involving methamphetamine trafficking in the second degree because HRS § 706-667 is contrary to HRS § 712-1240.8. The legislature intended to divest the circuit court of its discretion to sentence Casugay-Badiang under any sentencing statute other than HRS § 712-1240.8(3).

128 Hawai'i at 373, 289 P.3d at 1009. The ICA concluded that the circuit court "erred in disregarding the plain language of HRS § 712-1240.8. . . ." 128 Hawai'i at 374, 289 P.3d at 1010.

III. Discussion

On certiorari, Casugay-Badiang argues that the "ICA's Opinion simply concludes that 'HRS § 706-667 is contrary to HRS § 712-1240.8' without undertaking a thorough analysis of the construction of both statutes." We now take a closer look at both statutes.

A. HRS § 712-1240.8

HRS § 712-1240.8 provides:

Methamphetamine trafficking in the second degree. (1) A person commits the offense of methamphetamine trafficking in the second degree if the person knowingly distributes methamphetamine in any amount.
(2) Methamphetamine trafficking in the second degree is a class B felony for which the defendant shall be sentenced as provided in subsection (3).
(3) Notwithstanding sections 706-620, 706-640, 706-641, 706-660, 706-669, and any other law to the contrary, a person convicted of methamphetamine trafficking in the second degree shall be sentenced to an indeterminate term of imprisonment of ten years with a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of not less than one year and not greater than four years and a fine not to exceed $10, 000, 000; provided that:
(a) If the person has one prior conviction for methamphetamine trafficking pursuant to this section or section 712-1240.7, the mandatory minimum term of imprisonment shall be not less than three years, four months and not greater than six years, eight months;
(b) If the person has two prior convictions for methamphetamine trafficking pursuant to this section or section 712-1240.7, the mandatory minimum term of imprisonment shall be not less than six years, eight months and not greater than ten years; or
(c) If the person has three or more prior convictions for methamphetamine trafficking pursuant to this section or section 712-1240.7, the mandatory minimum term of imprisonment shall be ten years.

At issue in this case is whether the circuit court had the discretion to sentence Casugay-Badiang to a special five-year indeterminate term of imprisonment under HRS § 706-667 in the face of the following language from HRS § 712-1240.8(3):

Notwithstanding sections 706-620, 706-640, 706-641, 706-660, 706-669, and any other law to the contrary, a person convicted of methamphetamine trafficking in the second degree shall be sentenced to an indeterminate term of imprisonment of ten years with a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of not less than one ...

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