Sau Wan Sin v. Fung, No. CAAP–12–0000817.

CourtHawaii Court of Appeals
Citation353 P.3d 411 (Table),135 Hawai'i 408
Decision Date17 June 2015
PartiesSAU WAN SIN, Petitioner–Appellant, v. Jeff FUNG, Respondent–Appellee.
Docket NumberNo. CAAP–12–0000817.

135 Hawai'i 408
353 P.3d 411 (Table)

SAU WAN SIN, Petitioner–Appellant
Jeff FUNG, Respondent–Appellee.

No. CAAP–12–0000817.

Intermediate Court of Appeals of Hawai‘i.

June 17, 2015.

Philip Dureza, on the briefs, for Petitioner–Appellant.



In this appeal from the denial of a petition for protective order, Petitioner–Appellant Sau Wan Sin (Sin) challenges the procedure allegedly mandated by the Family Court of the First Circuit (Family Court)1 in denying her ex parte petition.

Sin argues that, although there is no longer a live controversy in this case, it is not moot because it falls within the public interest exception to the mootness doctrine. On the merits of her appeal, Sin contends that the Family Court erred when it applied the requirements of Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) § 586–3(c) (2006) because it (1) ruled that a petitioner seeking a protective order must use the form provided by the court; (2) refused to consider her Declaration; and (3) ruled that a Petition for Order For Protection (POFP) must be signed under penalty of perjury.

After a careful review of the points raised and arguments made by the parties, the applicable authority and the record, we conclude that Sin's case is moot and that this case does not implicate the public interest exception to the mootness doctrine because, on the facts of this case, the Family Court merely applied the plain language of the applicable statute and therefore did not err in refusing to consider Sin's attachment to the POFP.

Sin concedes that there is no live controversy in this case because the Family Court granted her subsequent petition for a protective order.2 Whether a case is moot is a matter of jurisdiction that we review de novo. Hamilton ex rel. Lethem v. Lethem, 119 Hawai‘i 1, 4–5, 193 P.3d 839, 842–43 (2008) ( Hamilton. ) It is well settled that

The mootness doctrine is said to encompass the circumstances that destroy the justiciability of a suit previously suitable for determination. Put another way, the suit must remain alive throughout the course of litigation to the moment of final appellate disposition. Its chief purpose is to assure that the adversary system, once set in operation, remains properly fueled. The doctrine seems appropriate where events subsequent to the judgment of the trial court have so affected the relations between the parties that the two conditions for justiciability relevant on appeal—adverse interest and effective remedy—have been compromised.

Hamilton, 119 Hawai‘i at 5, 193 P.3d at 843 (citation omitted). As evidenced by the Family Court's Conclusion of Law # 6,3 as well as Finding # 19(b),4 a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) was apparently issued against Fung at Sin's request in a subsequent case, and said TRO was not set to expire until more than four months after the Family Court entered its Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law in this case. Further, Sin alleges on appeal that she subsequently received an order of protection in that case. Therefore, we agree that no further remedy can be awarded to Sin.

However, Sin relies on the public interest exception to the mootness doctrine in support of her argument that we reach the merits of her appeal. In Hawai‘i,

when the question involved affects the public interest and an authoritative determination is desirable for the guidance of public officials, a case will not be considered moot. When analyzing the public interest exception, we look to (1) the public or private nature of the question presented, (2) the desirability of an authoritative determination for future guidance of public officers, and (3) the likelihood of future recurrence of the question.

Doe v. Doe, 116 Hawai‘i 323, 327, 172 P.3d 1067, 1071 (2007) (citations and quotation marks omitted). Sin argues that her appeal qualifies under...

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