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St. Clair v. State

Intermediate Court of Appeals of Hawaii

December 20, 2013

STEPHEN KEITH ST. CLAIR, Petitioner-Appellant,
STATE OF HAWAI'I, Respondent-Appellee.



Stephen Keith St. Clair Petitioner-Appellant pro se

Linda L. Walton Deputy Prosecuting Attorney County of Hawaii for Respondent-Appellee

Robert T. Nakatsuji Deputy Solicitor General Department of the Attorney General for Respondent-Appellee

By: Nakamura, C.J., and Fujise and Leonard, JJ.


Petitioner-Appellant Stephen Keith St. Clair (St. Clair), appearing without a lawyer, appeals from the order denying his petition for post-conviction relief (Order Denying Petition)[1] filed in the Circuit Court of the Third Circuit (Circuit Court).[2] St. Clair filed his petition for postconviction relief pursuant to Hawai'i Rules of Penal Procedure Rule (HRPP) Rule 40 (2006).

On appeal, St. Clair contends that: (1) by placing him in the Level III level of punishment, the Hawai'i Paroling Authority (HPA) violated its guidelines for determining his minimum term of incarceration, and therefore, the Circuit Court erred in upholding the HPA's determination of his minimum term; (2) the Circuit Court erred in imposing restitution because St. Clair asserts that restitution can only be imposed by a jury; and (3) the Circuit Court violated his rights by determining on remand, in its Order Denying Petition, the manner of his restitution payments without a hearing and without providing him with assistance of counsel.

As explained in greater detail below, we conclude that the HPA erroneously relied upon the "Degree of Injury/Loss to Person" as one of its two grounds for placing St. Clair in the Level III level of punishment and in determining his minimum term. Because we have no basis for determining whether the HPA would have imposed the same minimum term without its erroneous reliance on this ground, St. Clair's minimum term order must be vacated and the HPA must hold a new hearing to determine his minimum term. We further conclude that St. Clair's argument that restitution can only be determined by a jury is without merit, but that the Circuit Court erred in determining the manner of St. Clair's restitution payments in its Order Denying Petition without a hearing and without providing St. Clair with the assistance of a lawyer. Accordingly, we vacate the Circuit Court's Order Denying Petition and remand for further proceedings.



In his underlying criminal case, St. Clair was convicted after a jury trial of manslaughter, operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant'(OVUII), and driving without no-fault insurance. See State v. St. Clair, 101-Hawai'i 280, 283-86, 61 P.3d 779, 782-85 (2003) (hereinafter, "St. Clair I"). St. Clair's convictions stemmed from his driving while intoxicated and striking and killing a pedestrian, Jane O'Brien, on February 23, 2002. 16^_ at 283, 67 P.3d at 782. At trial, St. Clair admitted that he had consumed at least twelve beers prior to the accident. Id. at 284, 67 P.3d at 783. The prosecution introduced evidence that St. Clair's blood alcohol content was .211 gram per- one hundred milliliters of blood immediately following the accident. Id. In addition, St. Clair stipulated to conduct that had resulted in a prior conviction in Canada for OVUII, namely, that in 1998, he drove his vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.19 gram per one hundred milliliters of blood, failed to negotiate a curve, drove over a curb onto a lawn, and struck a parked vehicle forcing it into a second parked vehicle. Id. The trial court excluded evidence of a second prior Canadian OVUII conviction. Id.

The Circuit Courts[3] imposed sentence on St. Clair that included twenty years of incarceration and restitution of $11, 563.04 for his manslaughter conviction and a concurrent term of 30 days of incarceration for his OVUII conviction. The Circuit Court entered its Judgment on August 5, 2002. St. Clair filed a direct appeal of the Circuit Court's Judgment, which the Hawai'i Supreme Court affirmed in its published opinion in St. Clair I issued in 2003. Id^ at 290, 67 P.3d at 789.


After the supreme court issued its decision in St. Clair I, St. Clair filed an HRPP Rule 40 Petition (First Petition) on October 1, 2003. See St. Clair v. State, No. 29978, 2010 WL 2904829, at *1 {Hawai'i App. July 22, 2010) (memorandum opinion) {hereinafter, "St. Clair II"). St. Clair only raised one ground for relief in the First Petition, that his court-appointed counsel provided ineffective assistance in advising him to stipulate to the Canadian charge. Id.

On December 6, 2006, St. Clair filed another HRPP Rule 40 Petition (Second Petition) which attached a copy of the First Petition. Id. In St. Clair II, this court did not construe the Second Petition as a new petition, but rather as a supplement to the First Petition. Id. In his Second Petition, St. Clair clarified that the ineffective assistance of counsel claim raised in the First Petition was that counsel was ineffective for allowing a prior bad act into evidence through a factually inaccurate stipulation. Id. The Second Petition also added claims that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to:

(1) assert a [Hawaii Rules of Evidence (HRE)] Rule 404(b) notice requirement when the prosecutor brought up other matters beyond what had been agreed to in the stipulation; (2) request a limiting instruction regarding the stipulation so it could not be proved that St. Clair acted in conformity with the actions stated in the stipulation[;] and (3) object to an order of restitution because the circuit court did not enter Findings of Fact and Conclusions o[f] Law, the order of restitution did not ...

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