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State v. Anthony

Intermediate Court of Appeals of Hawai'i

October 23, 2014

STATE OF HAWAI'I, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
KAMALA L. ANTHONY, Defendant-Appellant

Editorial Note:

This decision is published in table format in the Pacific and Hawai'i reporter

APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE THIRD CIRCUIT. (CITATION NO. 3DTI-13-006391).

On the briefs: Ramala L. Anthony, Defendant-Appellant, Pro se.

Ryan K. Caday, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, County of Hawai'i, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

By: Foley, Presiding Judge, and Fujise and Reifurth, JJ.

OPINION

SUMMARY DISPOSITION ORDER

Defendant-Appellant Kamala L. Anthony (" Anthony" ) appeals from the September 19, 2013 Notice of Entry of Judgment and/or Order (" Judgment" ) entered by the District Court of the Third Circuit, North and South Hilo Division (" District Court" ).[1]

On June 28, 2013, Anthony was stopped and ticketed by Hawai'i Police Department Officer Jeremy Kubojiri for failing to wear a seatbelt in violation of Hawaii Revised Statutes (" HRS" ) § 291-11.6 (Supp. 2013).[2] Anthony was wearing her seatbelt when Officer Kubojiri reached her driver's side window, but the parties disagree as to whether she had it on before that. Anthony maintains that she wore a seatbelt at all times.

On August 5, 2013, the District Court considered Anthony's contest to her ticket, entered judgment for the State of Hawai'i (" State" ), and ordered Anthony to pay $92 in fees and other costs. Anthony then requested a trial de novo pursuant to Hawaii Civil Traffic Rules (" HCTR" ) Rule 19(b). A bench trial was held on September 19, 2013, and the District Court again found in favor of the State.

On appeal, Anthony claims that:
The judgment in favor of the State of Hawaii clearly shows that the judge ignored my testimony and by doing this, the judge has ignored the express words for section 701-115(1) Hawaii Revised Statutes and denied me my constitutionally protected right to [due] process of law.

Upon careful review of the record and the briefs submitted by the parties, and having given due consideration to the arguments advanced and the issues raised by the parties, we resolve Anthony's point of error as follows and affirm:

Anthony argues that the District Court erred by " ignor[ing] the express words [of HRS] section 701-115(1)," yet fails to identify exactly how that failure was demonstrated. Presumably, Anthony refers to HRS § 701-115 in order to argue that the State failed to prove each element of the seat belt infraction " beyond a reasonable doubt" at the September 19, 2013 trial.[3] The appropriate standard of proof for this case, however, " shall be whether, by a preponderance of the evidence, the court finds that the traffic infraction was committed[.]" Haw. Rev. Stat. § 291D-8(a)(3) (emphasis added). Therefore, to succeed in making its prima facie case, the State must have provided the finder of fact at trial with enough proof to find that " the existence of the contested fact is more probable than its nonexistence." Luat v. Cacho, 92 Hawai'i 330, 343, 991 P.2d 840, 853 (App. 1999) (quoting Masaki v. General Motors Corp., 71 Haw. 1, 14, 780 P.2d 566, 574 (1989)) (internal quotation marks omitted).

On appeal, we determine whether there was legally sufficient evidence presented at trial to support the District Court's Judgment by considering the evidence in the strongest light for the prosecution. State v. Maldonado, 108 Hawai'i 436, 442, 121 P.3d 901, 907 (2005) (citations omitted). Here, that evidence includes contradictory testimony from Anthony and Officer Kubojiri. " It is well-settled that an appellate court will not pass upon issues dependent upon the credibility of witnesses and the weight of evidence; this is the province of the trier of fact." Fisher v. Fisher, 111 Hawai'i 41, 46, 137 P.3d 355, 360 (2006) (quoting In re Doe, 95 Hawai'i 183, 190, 20 P.3d 616, 623 (2001)) (internal quotation marks omitted).

In light of the standard governing our review, Officer Kubojiri's testimony that he observed Anthony driving towards him with her seat belt unbuckled and, upon stopping her, observed Anthony reaching for the buckle hanging above her left shoulder to presumably buckle it before he reached her car, constituted credible evidence of sufficient quality and probative value to enable a person of reasonable caution to find Anthony guilty of not wearing a seat belt while driving on a public highway in violation of HRS § 291-11.6. See Doe, 95 Hawai'i at 196-97, 20 P.3d at 629-30 (citing State v. Eastman, 81 Hawai'i 131, 141, 913 P.2d 57, 67 (1996)) (" [T]he testimony of a single witness, if found by the trier of fact to be credible, will suffice" to establish substantial evidence.)

Finally, any claim of a due process violation is precluded because the District Court acted appropriately in basing its Judgment on substantial evidence.

Therefore,

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the September 19, 2013 Notice of Entry of Judgment and/or Order is affirmed.


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