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State v. Smith

Intermediate Court of Appeals of Hawaii

December 13, 2013

STATE OF HAWAI'I, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
STEVEN ALLEN SMITH, Defendant-Appellee.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION IN WEST'S HAWAII REPORTS AND PACIFIC REPORTER

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE FIRST CIRCUIT (CR. NO. 11-1-1804)

James M. Anderson Deputy Prosecuting Attorney City and County of Honolulu for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Summer M.M. Kupau Deputy Public Defender Office of the Public Defender for Defendant-Appellee.

Foley, Presiding Judge, Leonard and Ginoza, JJ.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff-Appellant State of Hawai'i (State) appeals from the Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Order Granting Defendant's Motion to Suppress Statements (Suppression Order), filed on December 19, 2012, in the Circuit Court of the First Circuit (circuit court).[1]

In its Suppression Order, relying on State v. Eli, 126 Hawai'i 510, 273 P.3d 1196 (2012), the circuit court granted Defendant-Appellee Steven Allen Smith's (Smith) motion to suppress a recorded statement that Smith gave to a Honolulu Police Department (HPD) detective (Detective) while in custody at the HPD main station.

On appeal, the State challenges the circuit court's conclusions of law regarding Eli and the granting of Smith's Motion to Suppress Statements (motion to suppress).

For the reasons discussed below, we affirm.

I. Standard of Review

We review the circuit court's ruling on a motion to suppress de novo and must look to the entire record on appeal to determine whether the ruling was right or wrong. A trial court's conclusions of law are reviewed under the right/wrong standard. A conclusion of law is not binding upon an appellate court and is freely reviewable for its correctness. This court examines the facts and answers the question without being required to give any weight to the trial court's answer to it.

State v. Joseph, 109 Hawai'i 482, 493, 128 P.3d 795, 806 (2006) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

II. Background

On December 5, 2011, Detective initially met with Smith outside of an HPD interview room. As found by the circuit court and unchallenged on appeal, at that time Smith was under arrest and in custody for Attempted Murder in the Second Degree and Robbery in the First Degree.

Without first providing a Miranda warning, Detective asked Smith whether he would like to give a statement. Smith acknowledged that he wanted to speak with Detective. Smith and Detective then entered the nearby interview room and Detective turned on the tape recorder. Detective asked multiple "precursory" questions prior to administering Smith's Miranda righ ...


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