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Schwartz v. State

Supreme Court of Hawaii

November 19, 2015

SANDRA KAY SCHWARTZ, Petitioner/Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF HAWAII, Respondent/Respondent-Appellee.

CERTIORARI TO THE INTERMEDIATE COURT OF APPEALS (CAAP-10-0000199; DC-S.P. NO. 10-1-0005; CASE NO. 2DTA-08-00292)

Hayden Aluli for petitioner

Renee Ishikawa Delizo for respondent

McKENNA AND POLLACK, JJ., AND CIRCUIT JUDGE KIM, ASSIGNED BY REASON OF VACANCY; WITH NAKAYAMA, J., CONCURRING SEPARATELY, WITH WHOM RECKTENWALD, C.J., JOINS

OPINION

POLLACK, J.

I. INTRODUCTION

Sandra Schwartz applied for a writ of certiorari from the judgment on appeal of the Intermediate Court of Appeals to determine whether omission of an element of a charged offense renders the trial court without subject-matter jurisdiction over the case. We find no deficiency of jurisdiction and affirm the judgment on appeal, but for the reasons stated herein.

II. BACKGROUND

On February 20, 2008, the State of Hawai'i (State) filed a two-count criminal traffic complaint against Sandra Schwartz (Schwartz) in the District Court of the Second Circuit (district court). Count One alleged commission of the offense of Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence of an Intoxicant (OVUII), in violation of Hawai'i Revised Statutes (HRS) § 291E-61(a) (2007).[1] The complaint charged Count One as follows:

That on or about the 26th day of January, 2008, in the Division of Lahaina, County of Maui, State of Hawaii, SANDRA KAY SCHWARTZ did operate or assume actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant meaning that she was under the influence of alcohol in an amount sufficient to impair her normal mental faculties or ability to care for herself and guard against casualty, thereby committing the offense of Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence of an Intoxicant in violation of Section 291E61 (a) of the Hawaii Revised Statutes.

The complaint did not allege that the offense took place on a public way, street, road, or highway.[2]

On April 2, 2008, Schwartz pleaded guilty to the OVUII charge.[3] At the change of plea hearing, counsel for Schwartz stated, "Your Honor, we are in receipt of a written complaint. We waive oral reading of the written complaint." The court examined Schwartz with respect to her plea, and Schwartz indicated that she was aware of the procedural and substantive effect of her plea. Schwartz and the State stipulated to the following facts: Schwartz was stopped by a police officer in Lahaina; she was unable to successfully perform field sobriety maneuvers; and she elected to refuse testing. Following recitation of these facts and completion of the guilty plea colloquy, the district court found Schwartz guilty of OVUII and imposed sentence.[4] Schwartz did not file an appeal from the April 2, 2008 judgment of conviction (judgment).

Approximately two years later, this court held that operation of a vehicle on "a public way, street, road, or highway" (public road) is an attendant circumstance of the offense of OVUII, and therefore the public road circumstance is an element of the offense that must be stated in the charge. State v. Wheeler, 121 Hawai'i 383, 393, 219 P.3d 1170, 1180 (2009) .

Based on Wheeler, Schwartz filed a petition to vacate and set aside the judgment under Hawai'i Rules of Penal Procedure (HRPP) Rule 40 (Rule 40 petition). In her Rule 40 petition, Schwartz raised a single issue: the "complaint failed to allege an essential element of OVUII, " and " [a]ccordingly, [c]ount [o]ne of the complaint . . . was fatally defective, thereby conferring no subject matter[] jurisdiction to the trial court." (Emphasis added). Schwartz argued that as a consequence of the court's lack of jurisdiction, the judgment as to the OVUII charge "is null and void as a matter of law." Schwartz did not contend that her plea was not made voluntarily and intelligently nor assert any other reason that her plea should be considered invalid.

The State responded with the following arguments: Schwartz waived her jurisdictional argument by failing to raise it on direct appeal; even if she had not waived the argument, Wheeler does not apply retroactively to final judgments no longer pending at the time Wheeler was decided; the complaint reasonably charged Schwartz with OVUII; and she was not prejudiced by the omission of the public-road element in the OVUII charge.

In its written order denying the Rule 40 petition, the district court concluded that Wheeler "created a new constitutional rule of criminal procedure."[5] The court noted that new constitutional rules of criminal procedure do not apply to cases that become final before the new rule is announced, unless the rule is within one of two categories. The court concluded that the two exceptions did not apply because it was not (1) a rule that places a class of private conduct beyond the power of the State to proscribe or addresses a substantive categorical guarantee of the constitution or (2) a watershed rule of criminal procedure implicating fundamental fairness. Accordingly, the district court concluded that Wheeler did not apply retroactively and denied Schwartz's Rule 40 petition.

Schwartz timely appealed to the Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA). Before the ICA, Schwartz renewed her argument that the district court lacked jurisdiction to adjudicate the crime for which she was charged and also challenged the district court's conclusion that Wheeler could not be applied retroactively to challenge a final judgment.

In response, the State argued the following: the district court correctly found that Wheeler did not have retroactive application; under the Motta/Wells liberal construction standard, [6] the complaint could reasonably be construed to charge a crime; and Schwartz could not show that she suffered prejudice.

The ICA affirmed the district court's order denying Schwartz's Rule 40 petition in a summary disposition order, relying on Christian v. State, 131 Hawai'i 153, 315 P.3d 779 (App. 2013), decided the same day. Schwartz v. State, No. CAAP-10-0000199 (App. Nov. 23, 2013) (SDO) at *1. In Christian, the ICA held that the Wheeler decision represented a new rule that did not apply retroactively. Christian, 131 Hawai'i at 160-61, 315 P.3d at 786-87. Additionally, the ICA concluded that when a defendant challenges the sufficiency of the charge for the first time on collateral review, a defendant is required to show exceptional circumstances in order to obtain relief. Id. at 164-65, 315 P.3d at 788-90. Applying that test, the ICA held that Schwartz could not establish exceptional circumstances. Id. at 164-65, 315 P.3d at 790-91.

In her application for writ of certiorari (Application) to this court, Schwartz presents the threshold question of whether the failure of a charging instrument to allege an element of an offense is a jurisdictional defect that "fail[s] to confer subject-matter jurisdiction to the district court." Schwartz also presents two other questions: whether Wheeler applies retroactively to cases on collateral review, and whether "a defective charge under Wheeler, even if properly characterized as a jurisdictional defect, cannot be retroactively applied on collateral review."

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

The denial of a Rule 40 petition based on the district court's conclusions of law is reviewed de novo. Coulter v. State, 116 Hawai'i 181, 184, 172 P.3d 493, 496 (2007).

IV. DISCUSSION

In 2009, this court held that the fact that the offense of OVUII took place on a public road was an element of an OVUII charge. Wheeler, 121 Hawai'i at 393, 396, 219 P.3d at 1180, 1183. As noted, the OVUII charge against Schwartz, filed prior to the decision in Wheeler, did not allege the public-road element. Thus, this court must determine whether the district court had jurisdiction to adjudicate the OVUII offense charged against her, notwithstanding the omitted element.

A. Jurisdiction of the district court is conferred by statute

Jurisdiction is defined as "the power and authority on the part of the court to hear and judicially determine and dispose of the cause pending before it." State v. Villados, 55 Haw. 394, 396, 520 P.2d 427, 430 (1974J; Matter of Keamo, 3 Haw.App. 360, 366, 650 P.2d 1365, 1370 (1982) (same); Sherman v. Sawyer, 63 Haw. 55, 57, 621 P.2d 346, 348 (1980) (same); see also Black's Law Dictionary 980 (10th ed. 2014) (defining jurisdiction as a "court's power to decide a case or issue a decree") .

"Jurisdiction of the offense charged and of the person of the accused is a fundamental and indispensable prerequisite to a valid prosecution."[7] State v. Meyers, 72 Haw. 591, 593, 825 P.2d 1062, 1064 (1992). "[J]urisdiction depends upon the state of affairs existing at the time it is invoked; once having attached, it ... is retained by a court until fully exhausted by the entry of a final judgment." Villados, 55 Haw. at 397, 520 P.2d at 430. It is not lost by subsequent events, id., unless a statute provides otherwise.[8] "[J]urisdiction is not a light bulb which can be turned off or on during the course of the trial." Id. (quoting Silver Surprize, Inc. v. Sunshine Mining Co., 445 P.2d 334, 336 (Wash. 1968)) (internal quotation marks omitted).

Lack of subject-matter jurisdiction means that a court is without power to decide the merits of a case.[9] State v. Brandimart, 68 Haw. 495, 496, 720 P.2d 1009, 1010 (1986) . However, "[a] court always has jurisdiction to determine whether it has jurisdiction over a particular case." Id. "[Q]uestions regarding subject matter jurisdiction may be raised at any stage of a cause of action." Adams v. State, 103 Hawai'i 214, 221, 81 P.3d 394, 401 (2003) (quoting Amantiad v. Odum, 90 Hawai'i 152, 159, 977 P.2d 160, 167 (1999)). If a court lacks jurisdiction to hear a matter, any decision on the merits of the "case" is, by definition, null and void. Id.

Thus, subject-matter jurisdiction is fundamental to a court's power to act on the merits of a case from the outset of the action; it may be challenged at any time, but jurisdiction does not vacillate during the course of a case depending on the particulars of the matter as it develops.

1. Criminal jurisdiction of the district courts

The criminal jurisdiction of our courts originates in our constitution and is defined by the legislature.

The judicial power of the State shall be vested in one supreme court, one intermediate appellate court, circuit courts, district courts and in such other courts as the legislature may from time to time establish. The several courts shall have original and appellate jurisdiction as provided by law ....

Haw. Const, art. VI, § 1 (emphasis added). In accordance with the constitution, the legislature has established the criminal jurisdictional parameters of the circuit courts and the district courts by statute. See HRS § 603-21.5 (prescribing the jurisdiction of the circuit courts as including "[c]riminal offenses cognizable under the law of the State, committed within their respective circuits"); HRS § 604-8 (setting forth the narrower criminal jurisdiction of the district courts) .[10]

HRS chapter 604 defines the criminal jurisdiction of the district courts.[11] "District courts shall have jurisdiction of, and their criminal jurisdiction is limited to, criminal offenses punishable by fine, or by imprisonment not exceeding one year whether with or without fine." HRS § 604-8 (2001). District courts are empowered "to try without a jury, and to render judgment in all cases of criminal offenses coming within their respective jurisdictions." HRS § 604-9.[12] Additionally, the district courts are conferred authority to adjudicate violation of ordinances enacted by the counties.[13]

In addition to defining district court criminal jurisdiction by the penalties that may be imposed for the offense, the legislature specifies that the district courts have jurisdiction of all criminal offenses "cognizable" under state law that occur within their respective circuits, subject to the penalties limitations set forth in HRS § 604-8: "The several district courts shall have jurisdiction, except as otherwise provided, of all criminal offenses cognizable under the laws of the State, committed within their respective circuits or transferred to them for trial by change of venue from some other district court." HRS § 604-11.5 (1993) (emphasis added); see also HRS § 603-21.5 (providing that the circuit courts have jurisdiction of criminal offenses "cognizable under the laws of the State" (emphasis added)).

Cognizable means "[c]apable of being known or recognized, " or "[c]apable of being judicially tried or examined before a designated tribunal; within the court's jurisdiction." Black's Law Dictionary 316 (10th ed. 2014). "A court has subject matter jurisdiction over a case if it is authorized to take cognizance of, try, and determine a case involving that subject matter." State v. Alagao, 77 Hawai'i 260, 262, 883 P.2d 682, 684 (App. 1994) (citing Coleman v. Coleman, 5 Haw. 300 (Haw. Kingdom 1885)).[14]

Therefore, the criminal jurisdiction of the district courts is defined and limited by grant of the legislature. As defined by HRS Chapter 604, the jurisdiction of the district courts encompasses crimes established by law that are punishable by fine or by fine and imprisonment of not more than a year, and that occur within the court's respective circuit or that are properly transferred by a change of venue. If the requirements of HRS Chapter 604 are satisfied, jurisdiction of the district court is invoked by the charging instrument.

2. The OVUII charge invoked the jurisdiction of the district court

The complaint charged Schwartz with OVUII under HRS § 291E-61(a) .[15] Count One of the complaint stated as follows:

That on or about the 26th day of January, 2008, in the Division of Lahaina, County of Maui, State of Hawaii, SANDRA KAY SCHWARTZ did operate or assume actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant meaning that she was under the influence of alcohol in an amount sufficient to impair her normal mental faculties or ability to care for herself and guard against casualty, thereby committing the offense of Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence of an Intoxicant in violation of Section 291E-61 (a) of the Hawaii Revised Statutes.

The charge indicated the location and date of the offense, the defendant, and the statute that Schwartz allegedly violated. The charged OVUII offense is "known" and recognized as a crime under HRS § 291E-61; the offense was punishable by a fine and by imprisonment not exceeding one year; and the offense was alleged to have occurred in Lahaina, which is within the Second Circuit. The required components of HRS §§ 604-8 and 604-11.5 were thus met. Consequently, the district court had subject-matter jurisdiction over the January 26, 2008 OVUII charge; that is, the district court had the power to hear and judicially dispose of the OVUII charge brought against Schwartz.

Count One also set forth the elements of the crime as defined by HRS § 291E-61(a)(1), but it did not state that the offense took place on a public road. Thus, the charge failed to allege an element of the crime of OVUII as established by HRS § 291E-61(a)(1).

3. Failure to charge an element does not deprive a court of subject-matter jurisdiction

This court has implicitly rejected the proposition that a charging instrument that fails to allege an element or the requisite mens rea of an otherwise cognizable crime renders the trial court without criminal jurisdiction. In State v. Davis, 133 Hawai'i 102, 324 P.3d 912 (2014), we considered whether an appellate court must address a defendant's express claim of insufficiency of evidence prior to remanding a case for dismissal because of a defective charge. Id. at 118, 324 P.3d at 928. The defendant in that case appealed his conviction following trial, contending, inter alia, that (1) the charge was defective because the State failed to allege a culpable state of mind as required and (2) there was insufficient evidence to support the conviction. Id. at 110, 324 P.3d at 920. The ICA agreed that the charge was defective and accordingly remanded the case to the district court to dismiss the case without prejudice; however, the ICA did not consider the sufficiency of the evidence. Id. The defendant sought review in this court of the ICA's failure to consider the sufficiency of the evidence, arguing that double jeopardy barred retrial if the evidence adduced at trial was insufficient to sustain the conviction. Id.

We held that an appellate court is required to address a defendant's expressed claim of insufficiency of the evidence before remanding a case for dismissal based on a defective charge. Id. at 120, 324 P.3d at 930. The holding in Davis treated a charge that is deficient for failing to allege a state of mind the same as one that fails to allege an element: "A defective or faulty indictment or charge, " whether based on a failure to allege the mens rea or based upon the omission of an element, is a "trial error." Id. at 116 n.14, 324 P.3d at 926 n.14 (internal quotation marks omitted). The Davis court noted, "It is well-settled that, even where this court finds trial error, challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence must always be decided on appeal." Id. at 116, 324 P.3d at 926 (emphasis altered) (quoting State v. Kalaola, 124 Hawai'i 43, 59, 237 P.3d 1109, 1125 (2010)) (internal quotation marks omitted). Therefore, Davis's treatment of trial error in relation to a flawed charge did not depend upon the nature of the charging defect.

The primary holding of Davis--that the appellate court must consider the sufficiency of the evidence when it is raised on appeal prior to remanding a case for dismissal as a result of a defective charge--is incompatible with treating a defective charge as depriving the court of the power to hear the case.

It is axiomatic that if a lower court is found to have lacked jurisdiction, we have jurisdiction on appeal, not of the merits, but for the purpose of correcting an error in jurisdiction. If an insufficient charge constituted a jurisdictional defect, then this court could not evaluate whether sufficient evidence existed before the trial court inasmuch as it would not have jurisdiction over the merits of the case.

Id. at 123 n.2, 324 P.3d 933 n.2 (Acoba, J., concurring) (alteration omitted) (emphasis added and omitted) (quoting In re Rice, 68 Haw. 334, 713 P.2d 426 (1986)) (internal quotation marks omitted). Therefore, Davis is irreconcilable with a rule that a court is deprived of subject-matter jurisdiction by a charging instrument that fails to allege a culpable state of mind or an element of the crime charged. If the court's jurisdiction had been abrogated by the defective charge, the trial proceedings would be void and the appellate court would be unable to consider whether the evidence was sufficient to support a conviction.

4. Prior decisions are generally consistent with Davis

This court's prior decisions are generally consistent with a rule that a charging instrument that fails to allege either the mens rea or an element of a crime, while potentially a significant violation of the defendant's right to due process, does not deprive the court of its power to adjudicate a crime over which the legislature has granted the court jurisdiction.

In State v. Jendrusch, 58 Haw. 279, 567 P.2d 1242 (1977), this court characterized an insufficient charge as a "failure to state an offense" and characterized a conviction based on such a charge as a "denial of due process." Id. at 281, 567 P.2d at 1244. "Not only does [the complaint] fail to state an offense, but it also fails to meet the requirement that an accused must be informed of the 'nature and cause of the accusation' against him." Id. (quoting Territory v. Yoshimura, 35 Haw. 324, 327 (Haw. Terr. 1940)). Despite finding the charge "fatally defective, " id., Jendrusch does not describe the defective charge as precluding the subject-matter jurisdiction of the court. Rather, the principal error recognized by Jendrusch was that the complaint failed to state the requisite intent and an element of conduct of the offense charged. Id. at 281-82, 567 P.2d at 1244-45 (noting that the complaint failed to allege the prescribed intent and that the relevant speech was likely to provoke a violent response). Therefore, Jendrusch addressed the defendant's lack of notice of the nature and cause of the charge against him and not the power of the court to hear the case.

In State v. Elliott, 77 Hawai'i 309, 884 P.2d 372 (1994), this court also did not use the term "jurisdiction" regarding a deficient charging instrument. The State failed to allege that the defendant intentionally prevented a police officer from effectuating an arrest with respect to a resisting arrest charge. Also, in regard to an assault against a police officer charge, the State did not allege that the assault was against a police officer in the line of duty. Id. at 311, 884 P.2d at 374.

Citing Jendrusch, Elliott states that "the failure to allege an essential element of an offense ma[kes] a charge 'fatally defective, '" id., and "constitute[s] a denial of due process, ." id. (quoting Jendrusch, 58 Haw. at 281, 567 P.2d at 1244. Elliott then examined the charge to determine if it could reasonably be construed to allege an included crime. Id. at 312, 884 P.2d at 375. The court concluded that the assault against a police officer charge could be construed to charge assault in the third degree but that the resisting arrest charge could not be construed to charge an included offense. Id. at 313, 884 P.2d at 376.

Accordingly, the case was remanded for entry of conviction of assault in the third degree and for dismissal of the resisting arrest charge. Id. If the defective charge had deprived the trial court of its power to adjudicate the assault offense, there would have been no basis on which this court could direct the trial court to enter conviction for the lesser included offense--the conviction for assault against a police officer would simply have been a nullity and the court would have vacated the judgment and remanded the case for dismissal. Therefore, as Elliott addressed the merits of the assault charge and examined relevant facts of the case, it is consistent with the rule that a charge, defective for failure to allege an element of an offense or a requisite mens rea, does not deprive the court of subject-matter jurisdiction conferred by statute.

In State v. Israel, 78 Hawai'i 66, 890 P.2d 203 (1994), the State appealed the circuit court's dismissal of a charge of the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. The defendant had successfully moved to have the charge dismissed for failure to allege the underlying felony. Id. at 69, 890 P.2d at 306. The court held that the failure of the State to allege the predicate felony resulted in a failure to adequately inform the defendant of the nature and cause of the crime charged, in violation of article I, section 14 of the Hawai'i Constitution. Id. at 71, 890 P.2d at 308. The Israel court concluded that "the principle of fundamental fairness, essential to the concept of due process of law, dictates that the defendant in a criminal action should not be relegated to a position from which he or she must speculate as to what crime he or she will have to meet in defense." Id. (alterations omitted) (quoting Kreck v. Spalding, 721 F.2d 1229, 1233 (9th Cir.)) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also id. at 73-75, 890 P.2d at 310-12 (characterizing a defective charge as a failure of due process and citing Elliott, Jendrusch, and Territory v. Yoshimura, 35 Haw. 324, 328 (Haw. Terr. 1940)).[16] Therefore, the court affirmed the dismissal. Id. at 76, 890 P.2d at 313. Israel does not refer to jurisdiction in discussing the failure of the charging document; thus, the decision is also consistent with the rule that a charging instrument that fails to allege an element of the crime charged does not deprive a court of its subject-matter jurisdiction.

In State v Sprattling, 99 Hawai'i 312, 317, 55 P.3d 276, 282 (2002), the defendant was orally charged with assault in the third degree, but the State failed to allege "bodily injury, " alleging only "injury" instead. Id. at 317, 55 P.3d at 281. Sprattling describes a defective charge as "encroach[ing] upon a defendant's constitutional rights, " but not as encroaching upon the power of the court to adjudicate the crime charged. Id. at 318, 55 P.3d at 282. "The onus is on the prosecution to inform the accused fully of the accusations presented against him or her because [of] 'the principle of fundamental fairness[] essential to the concept of due process of law . . . .'" Id. (alteration omitted) (quoting Israel, 78 Hawai'i at 71, 890 P.2d at 308). The majority in Sprattling did not use the term "jurisdiction" in reference to the alleged defect of the charge.[17] This decision is therefore also consistent with the rule that a charge that omits an element of an offense is a trial error but not one that vitiates the jurisdiction of the court granted by statute.

In State v. Nesmith, 127 Hawai'i 48, 276 P.3d 617 (2012), this court again reviewed the sufficiency of a charge and did not describe an insufficient charge in terms of jurisdiction. Id. at 52, 276 P.3d at 621. The defendants in Nesmith were charged with OVUII under HRS § 291E-61(a)(1) and (a)(3), but challenged their convictions on the grounds that the charge in their respective cases failed to allege the mens rea. This court determined that under HRS § 291E-61(a)(1), the "sufficient to impair" alternative of the offense, [18] the State was required to prove a culpable state of mind that must be alleged in the complaint. I_d. However, under HRS § 291E-61(a)(3), the court determined that the alternative of "with .08 or more grams of alcohol" per two hundred ten liters of breath was a strict liability offense that did not require the State to prove a culpable state of mind. Id. at 53, 276 P.3d at 622. Thus, as the charges relating to the HRS § 291E-61(a)(3) alternative did not require the State to allege the mens rea, the decision in Nesmith upheld the convictions of both defendants, but the court also concluded that the respective charges failed to allege the requisite state of mind for the "sufficient to impair" alternative under HRS § 291E-61(a)(1). Id. at 61, 276 P.3d at 630.

As is significant in the current context, Nesmith did not describe the failure to allege the mens rea as a defect that deprived the court of its subject-matter jurisdiction. Instead, the decision describes the defect as "a failure to state an offense, and a conviction based upon it cannot be sustained, for that would constitute a denial of due process." Id. at 53, 276 P.3d at 622. Thus, Nesmith is consistent with the rule that a charge that fails to allege the requisite mens rea does not deprive the court of subject-matter jurisdiction.

Similarly, in State v. Apollonio, 130 Hawai'i 353, 358, 311 P.3d 676, 681 (2013), this court considered the sufficiency of an excessive speeding charge that failed to allege a culpable state of mind. Apollonio described the insufficient charge not as a defect that deprives a court of its subject-matter jurisdiction, but as a denial of due process. "[W]e adhere to this core principle: A charge that fails to charge a requisite state of mind cannot be construed reasonably to state an offense and thus the charge is dismissed without prejudice because it violates due process."[19] Id. at 359, 311 P.3d at 682 (citing Elliott, 77 Hawai'i at 313, 884 P.2d at 376; Nesmith, 127 Hawai'i at 56, 276 P.3d at 625). Therefore, Apollonio is also consistent with the rule that a charge that fails to allege the mens rea or an element of a crime is a due process violation, but such omission does not eliminate a court's jurisdiction established by statute over a cognizable criminal offense.

While the majority of our cases have not treated a charge that omits an element or the requisite mens rea as a defect that eliminates a court's subject-matter jurisdiction, two cases have characterized such defects as jurisdictional flaws. These cases state that the defective charge is a violation of due process and deprives the court of "jurisdiction." However, both cases appear not to have fully applied a subject-matter jurisdiction analysis as reflected in the disposition or other rulings rendered in those cases. See Adams, 103 Hawai'i at 220-21, 81 P.3d at 400-01 ("[Jurisdiction of the offense charged and of the person of the accused is a fundamental and indispensable prerequisite to a valid prosecution." (citing State v. Meyers, 72 Haw. 591, 593, 825 P.2d 1062, 1064 (1992))) .

In State v. Cummings, 101 Hawai'i 139, 63 P.3d 1109 (2003), a defendant charged with OVUII argued "that the complaint failed to allege he was under the influence of intoxicating liquor in an amount sufficient to impair the person's normal mental faculties or ability to care for oneself and guard against casualty.'" 101 Hawai'i at 142, 63 P.3d at 1112 (emphasis deleted) (quoting HRS § 291-4(a)(1) (Supp. 1999)). The Cummings court agreed that the complaint was "fatally defective" and stated that "the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to preside over the prosecution's ...


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