Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Vaimili

Supreme Court of Hawai'i

June 29, 2015

STATE OF HAWAI'I, Respondent/Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
JOSEPH VAIMILI, Petitioner/Defendant-Appellant

Page 1035

CERTIORARI TO THE INTERMEDIATE COURT OF APPEALS. CAAP-12-0000115; CR. NO. 09-1-0410.

Jeffrey A. Hawk, for petitioner.

James M. Anderson, for respondent.

RECKTENWALD, C.J., NAKAYAMA, McKENNA, POLLACK, AND WILSON, JJ.

OPINION

Page 1036

[135 Hawai'i 494] McKENNA, J.

I. Introduction

This case arises from Petitioner/Defendant-Appellant Joseph Vaimili's (" Vaimili['s]" ) convictions for sex trafficking related crimes based on his conduct as a pimp for the complaining witness (" CW" ) who came to Hawai'i to work as a prostitute during the 2009 Pro Bowl.

In brief summary, at his trial, Vaimili was present for voir dire and jury selection; however, he failed to appear in court two days later despite being instructed to do so. The trial was continued two times over the course of one month, first for five days, at which time the circuit court found that Vaimili had voluntarily absented himself from the proceedings, and again for twenty-one days, after which the circuit court conducted trial in absentia.

Vaimili challenges the State's pleading of the charges against him in the disjunctive and the circuit court's conducting trial in absentia, presenting four issues on certiorari:

1. Whether the ICA [Intermediate Court of Appeals] gravely erred in holding that the charges against Vaimili were not defective where they were phrased in the disjunctive?
2. Whether the ICA gravely erred in holding that Vaimili's counsel was not ineffective for failing to challenge the charges as defective where they were phrased in the disjunctive?
3. Whether the ICA gravely erred in holding that the proceedings in this case " commenced" for purposes of HRPP [Hawai'i Rules of Penal Procedure] Rule 43 when the process of jury selection begins?
4. Whether the ICA gravely erred in holding that the circuit court did not violate Vaimili's constitutional right to be present where it proceeded to trial in his absence?

Questions 1, 2, and 4 were raised as points of error before the ICA. Question 3 concerns an issue of first impression in this jurisdiction regarding the ICA's holding that " trial commences" for purposes of HRPP Rule 43 when jury selection begins.

II. Background

A. Circuit Court Proceedings[1]

On October 13, 2009, Vaimili was charged by amended complaint with two counts of Kidnapping, one count of Terroristic Threatening in the First Degree, one count of Promoting Prostitution in the First Degree, and one count of Carrying or Use of a Firearm in the Commission of a Separate Felony. The amended complaint read in relevant part as follows:

COUNT I: On or about the 4th day of March, 2009, to and including the 5th day of March 2009, in the City and County of Honolulu, State of Hawaii, JOSEPH [135 Hawai'i 495]

Page 1037

VAIMILI did intentionally or knowingly restrain [the Complaining Witness (" CW" )], with intent to terrorize her or a third person, thereby committing the offense of Kidnapping, in violation of Section 707-720(1)(e) of the [HRS].[2]
. . . .
COUNT II: On or about the 21st day of February, 2009, in the City and County of Honolulu, State of Hawaii, JOSEPH VAIMILI did intentionally or knowingly restrain [the CW], with intent to inflict bodily injury upon her or subject her to a sexual offense, thereby committing the offense of Kidnapping, in violation of Section 707-720(1)(d) of the [HRS].[3]
. . . .
COUNT III: On or about the 4th day of March, 2009, to and including the 5th day of March, 2009, in the City and County of Honolulu, State of Hawaii, JOSEPH VAIMILI, threatened, by word or conduct, to cause bodily injury to [the CW], with the use of a dangerous instrument, to wit, an instrument that falls within the scope of Section 706-660.1 of the [HRS], with the intent to terrorize, or in reckless disregard of the risk of terrorizing [the CW], thereby committing the offense of Terroristic Threatening in the First Degree, in violation of Section 707-716(1)(e) of the [HRS].[4]
. . . .
COUNT IV: On or about the 18th day of February, 2009, to and including the 3rd day of March, 2009, in the City and County of Honolulu, State of Hawaii, JOSEPH VAIMILI did knowingly advance prostitution by compelling [the CW] by force, threat, or intimidation to engage in prostitution, or did knowingly profit from such coercive conduct by another, thereby committing the offense of Promoting Prostitution in the First Degree, in violation of Section 712-1202(1)(a) of the [HRS].[5]
. . . .
COUNT V: On or about the 4th day of March, 2009, to and including the 5th day of March, 2009, in the City and County of Honolulu, State of Hawaii, JOSEPH VAIMILI did knowingly carry on his person or have within his immediate control or did intentionally use or threaten to use a firearm while engaged in the commission of a separate felony, to wit, Kidnapping and/or any included felony offense of Kidnapping, whether the firearm was loaded or not, and whether operable or not, thereby committing the offense of Carrying or Use of a Firearm in the Commission of a Separate Felony, in violation of Section 134-21 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes.[6] JOSEPH VAIMILI commits the offense of Kidnapping, in violation of Section 707-720(1)(e) of the [HRS], if he intentionally or knowingly restrain [sic] [the CW] with intent to terrorize her or a third person.

Jeffrey T. Arakaki (" Arakaki" or " trial counsel" ) was appointed to represent Vaimili.

Page 1038

On April 6, 2010, during a hearing on certain pretrial motions, trial counsel requested that Vaimili's presence be waived. [135 Hawai'i 496] The State informed the circuit court that it had information that Vaimili had left Hawai'i, and that the bail bond company had gone to San Francisco to try to locate him. The State also explained that Vaimili's bail was set for $250,000 because of the high risk of his leaving the state. The circuit court ordered a trial call for the following week and required Vaimili to be present in court.

On April 13, 2010, Vaimili was present in court for the trial call. Ida Peppers (" Peppers" ), who stated that she was a representative of the bail bond company and also Vaimili's employer in a restaurant, reported to the circuit court that she and Linda Del Rio (" Del Rio" ), an employee of the bail bond company, were in California looking for another person, not Vaimili. Vaimili denied that he had traveled to the mainland while on bail, instead asserting that he had been at work. The circuit court clarified with Vaimili that he " cannot leave this island without this Court's permission[,]" and continued the trial call to the following week to permit additional witnesses to be called on the issue of whether Vaimili had left Hawai'i.

At the hearing on April 22, 2010, a district court clerk (" court clerk" ) testified that on April 1st, Del Rio informed the clerk that Vaimili had forfeited his $250,000 bail, and that she was going to travel to San Francisco to bring him back. The court clerk, however, did not know whether Vaimili had actually left the jurisdiction. Del Rio testified that " Vaimili never left the State of Hawai'i[,]" and that she went to San Francisco to search for two other people. The circuit court concluded that the evidence presented was insufficient to prove an intentional violation of the conditions of bail by Vaimili. The circuit court found that " Del Rio's credibility is an issue[,]" and that the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.