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State v. Faria

Intermediate Court of Appeals of Hawai'i

February 6, 2015

STATE OF HAWAI'I, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
MARY L. FARIA, Defendant-Appellant

Editorial Note:

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

APPEAL FROM THE FAMILY COURT OF THE FIRST CIRCUIT. FC-CR. NO. 11-1-2373.

On the briefs: Page C. Kraker, Deputy Public Defender, for Defendant-Appellant.

Stephen K. Tsushima, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, City and County of Honolulu, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Foley, Presiding Judge, Leonard and Ginoza, JJ. Daniel R. Foley, Presiding Judge. Katherine G. Leonard, Associate Judge. Lisa M. Ginoza, Associate Judge.

SUMMARY DISPOSITION ORDER

Defendant-Appellant Mary L. Faria (Faria) appeals from the Judgment of Conviction and Sentence, filed on July 5, 2012, in the Family Court of the First Circuit (family court).[1]

Faria was convicted of Abuse of Family or Household Members, in violation of Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) § 709-906(1) (Supp. 2011),[2] as a result of a physical altercation with her husband, Kenneth Faria (Kenneth) on December 2, 2011.

On appeal, Faria contends that the family court erred by prohibiting her from introducing evidence of two prior incidents involving Kenneth's aggressive behavior and a photograph of a hole in a door which Faria alleges was caused when Kenneth punched the door while angry at Faria (Subject Evidence). In excluding the Subject Evidence, the family court held that it was irrelevant and would confuse the issues. Faria argues that the Subject Evidence was admissible to support her defense that Kenneth was the first aggressor and that Faria acted in self-defense during the December 2, 2011 incident.

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 Faria's point of error as follows, vacate her conviction, and remand for a new trial.

In pre-trial proceedings in the family court, Faria filed two notices indicating that she may seek to introduce evidence of Kenneth's history of violence. The evidence involved two separate incidents. In the first incident, Faria contends that on August 5, 2010, she and Kenneth were arguing and he went into her closet, took out all of her clothes, threw them on the porch, and some of the clothing was damaged. In the second incident, Faria contends that in September 2011, Kenneth learned that their son received an " F" on a report card, blamed Faria, and got so angry that he punched a hole in a door at their house. Faria also sought to introduce a photograph of the damaged door as an exhibit.

The State, in turn, filed a motion in limine seeking exclusion at trial of any evidence of Kenneth's prior bad acts or prior aggressive conduct, pursuant to Hawai'i Rules of Evidence (HRE) 404 and/or 403.

After a hearing on the admissibility of the Subject Evidence, the family court ruled that the Subject Evidence " will be irrelevant and would be confusing the jury as opposed to what really happened on the day in question which was December 2, [2011]." The family court thus precluded the defense from presenting any evidence about the prior incidents.

Given HRE Rule 404, Faria contends the family court erred by precluding admission of the prior incidents.[3] Faria also relies on State v. Lui,61 Haw. 328, 603 P.2d 151 (1979), State v. Basque, 66 Haw. 510, 666 P.2d 599 (1983), and State v. Estrada, 69 Haw. 204, 738 P.2d 812 (1987). Given the circumstances in this case, and that determining ...


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