TO THE INTERMEDIATE COURT OF APPEALS (CAAP-14-0000358; CR.
S. Shigetomi for petitioner.
Fudo for respondent.
RECKTENWALD, C.J., McKENNA, POLLACK, AND WILSON, JJ., WITH
NAKAYAMA, J., DISSENTING
case requires us to determine whether the trial court erred
in declaring a mistrial based on jurors' concerns about
their safety. Defendant Royce Gouveia was charged with
manslaughter and tried before the Circuit Court of the First
Circuit. After deliberating, the jurors sent
several notes to the court. The first note stated: "We
reached a verdict." Another note expressed concern for
their safety because a man on the prosecutor's side of
the courtroom had been "glaring and whistling at
[Gouveia]." The circuit court conducted voir dire of the
jurors to determine what, if any, effect the incident had on
them. The circuit court then declared a mistrial based on
manifest necessity. Gouveia subsequently filed a motion to
dismiss, asserting that the circuit court's finding of
manifest necessity and declaration of a mistrial was
erroneous, and that further prosecution was prohibited on
double jeopardy grounds. The circuit court denied the motion.
appealed the denial of his motion to dismiss to the
Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA). The ICA affirmed the
circuit court, State v. Gouveia, CAAP-14-358 (App.
Apr. 30, 2015) (mem.), and Gouveia then petitioned this court
to review the ICA's judgment.
conclude that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion
in concluding that there was manifest necessity for a
mistrial because the presumption of prejudice was not
overcome beyond a reasonable doubt. Accordingly, the
ICA's June 4, 2015 judgment on appeal is affirmed.
September 25, 2012, an altercation occurred in which Gouveia
struck Albert Meyer, causing Meyer to fall and hit his head
on the pavement. Meyer was taken to the hospital by ambulance
and pronounced brain dead two days later. Gouveia was
arrested and charged with manslaughter for recklessly causing
the death of Meyer in violation of Hawai'i Revised
Statutes (HRS) § 707-702(1)(a).
afternoon of June 6, 2013, the same day the State and Gouveia
made their closing arguments in Gouveia's trial, the jury
sent two simultaneous communications to the circuit court.
Communication No. 3, signed at 2:20 p.m., stated: "We
reached a verdict." Communication No. 2, signed four
minutes later, stated: "Concern. This morning on
prosecutor's side of courtroom there was a man, shaved
head, glaring and whistling at defendant. We have concern for
our safety as jurors."
circuit court told the State and Gouveia, "My intention,
unless counsel . . . can persuade me otherwise, is just to
take no action on this[.]" However, both counsel agreed
that the court should question the jurors "[a]s to its
effect, if any, on their deliberations and their
verdict[.]" The circuit court then determined that,
before opening the verdict, it would allow counsel to voir
dire the jurors individually and would also ask questions
questioning the jurors, the circuit court asked counsel
whether they knew anything about the occurrence to which
Communication No. 2 referred. Defense counsel stated that he
was not aware of anything that had happened. The Deputy
Prosecuting Attorney (DPA) stated that she did not see
anything, but was aware that Meyer's brother had been in
the courtroom that morning, was "pretty upset, "
and had a shaved head.
Questioning of the Jurors Regarding Communication No. 2
circuit court questioned all twelve jurors individually. Four
jurors stated that they witnessed an individual seated on the
prosecutor's side of the courtroom whistling and/or
glaring at Gouveia. The incident was brought up in the jury
room, where some of the jurors who observed the incident
stated that they "were a little bit scared." When
Juror No. 4 was asked by the court, "So I take it you
have concern for your safety, " she replied,
jurors indicated that the discussion of the incident occurred
before the verdict, ranging from within ten minutes of
commencing deliberation to the end of deliberation. At least
four of these jurors indicated that the discussion occurred
at the beginning of deliberations and that it was one of the
first topics discussed. All twelve jurors stated that neither
the incident itself nor the discussions of it affected their
own decision, but when Juror No. 11 was asked if the incident
"appear[ed] to have an impact on other people's
decision[, ]" she replied that "[i]t did."
State Moves for a Mistrial
all of the jurors had been questioned, the circuit court
asked both the State and Gouveia if they wanted the court to
take any further action. Gouveia said no, but the State moved
for a mistrial.
State argued there was a manifest necessity to declare a
mistrial because the topic of the man glaring and whistling
at Gouveia had come up during deliberations, no one had
remarked that it was an improper topic for the jury to
consider, and, based on the statement made by Juror No. 11,
the topic had seemed to influence the other jurors. The State
noted that approximately five of the jurors had said that the
topic of the incident came up during deliberations, i.e.,
before the jury had reached its verdict. Thus, according to
the State, the verdict was "tainted."
State also argued that it was important that at least three
jurors said the topic of the incident came up at the
beginning of the deliberations because, along with the fact
that the jurors decided to write a communication to the court
after reaching a verdict, it implied that it was important to
some of the jurors.
argued that because the court had instructed the jurors that
they had to decide the case based solely on the evidence
presented, and each of the jurors said that the discussion
did not impact their decision, there was no manifest
circuit court determined that it was required to look at the
totality of the circumstances and find beyond a reasonable
doubt that the jurors' concern for their personal safety
had no impact on any of the twelve jurors' decisions. If
it could not find that beyond a reasonable doubt, then there
would be manifest necessity requiring a mistrial.
circuit court then orally granted the State's motion for
[W]hen I . . . apply my reason and common sense to this that
at least some of these jurors have . . . what strikes me as a
really serious concern for their personal safety and it came
up according to, at least as I count, four or five of them,
it [was] . . . one of the first topics of discussion when
they got back in the room and started deliberating the case.
Somebody brought it up and they started talking about it. It
frankly beggars my reason and common sense that it would have
no bearing on the deliberations in this case and therefore
I'm going to grant the State's motion for mistrial.
I'm going to find there's manifest necessity for such
based on what I said . . . and everything else that's
been put on the record, including my questions to counsel.
The verdict's going to be sealed for future purposes, if
any, but obviously we're not going to take the verdict.
I'm declaring a mistrial and I'm finding manifest
necessity for that, because I don't think there's
anything short of a mistrial . . . that can cure it. The
verdict's tainted, in my view, based on my findings.
And to be explicit about it, as the finder of fact, I
don't find it credible that all 12 of these people
despite the answer they gave me about no impact on their
decision, I think at least one, and probably more than one of
them . . . had these serious concerns about their safety. It
really beggars my reason and common sense that it could not
have had any impact on their deliberations and decision in
circuit court later added:
So the record's clear and [Defense Counsel] has this
appellate issue if it becomes one in the future, I am
importing that standard from the juror misconduct cases in my
ruling here . . . . And I'm finding that I cannot find
beyond a reasonable doubt that there was no impact on the
deliberations or verdict in this case such that the verdict
was not tainted.
October 22, 2013, the circuit court entered its findings of
fact (FOFs), conclusions of law (COLs), and order granting
the State's motion for mistrial. The circuit court made
the following relevant FOFs:
9. Seven of the jurors indicated discussion of the incident
occurred before the verdict, ranging from within ten minutes
of commencing deliberation to the end of deliberation. At
least four of these seven jurors indicated discussion of the
incident occurred at the beginning of deliberations,
specifically that it was one of the first topics discussed.
10. During the discussion of the incident prior to verdict,
the jurors who actually observed the incident communicated to
the other jurors fear for their own safety.
11. Some of the juror answers regarding Communication No. 2
and the incident ...