State v. Smith, No. 6136

CourtSupreme Court of Hawai'i
Writing for the CourtBefore RICHARDSON; OGATA
PartiesSTATE of Hawaii, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Kenneth Allan SMITH, Defendant-Appellant.
Decision Date13 September 1978
Docket NumberNo. 6136

Page 347

583 P.2d 347
59 Haw. 565
STATE of Hawaii, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Kenneth Allan SMITH, Defendant-Appellant.
No. 6136.
Supreme Court of Hawai'i.
Sept. 13, 1978.

Page 348

Syllabus by the Court

1. No precise test of relevancy is furnished by the law but all relevant evidence is admissible unless some rule compels its exclusion and evidence is relevant if it tends to prove a fact in controversy or renders a matter in issue more or less probable.

2. A criminal defendant has the right to introduce evidence of those relevant and material facts which logically tend to prove the issues involved and which is not otherwise excluded.

3. Evidence proffered to be presented to a jury of the general physiological effects of LSD on human beings is relevant to the issue of whether the defendant's use of LSD prior to his confession would have caused an impairment of his mental processes or rendered him incapable of knowing the purpose and consequence of his confession.

4. Allowance or disallowance of the testimony of an expert witness is addressed to the sound discretion of the trial court and the exercise of that discretion will not be disturbed on appeal unless such ruling is clearly erroneous or there has been a clear abuse of discretion.

5. To warrant the use of expert testimony the subject matter of the inquiry must be of such a character that only persons of skill, education or experience in it are capable of forming a correct judgment as to any facts connected therewith, the testimony must be of a nature to aid the jury and sufficient data must appear upon which an expert judgment can be made.

[59 Haw. 571] Ronald M. Yonemoto, Deputy Public Defender, Honolulu, for defendant-appellant.

J. Leo McCormick, Jr., Deputy Prosecuting Atty., Honolulu (Francis Yamashita, Deputy Prosecuting Atty., Honolulu, on brief), for plaintiff-appellee.

[59 Haw. 565] Before RICHARDSON, C. J., and KOBAYASHI, OGATA, MENOR and KIDWELL, JJ.

OGATA, Justice.

On January 10, 1976, defendant-appellant Kenneth Allan Smith (hereinafter "appellant") was convicted by a jury of five counts of robbery in the first degree for violation of [59 Haw. 566] Section 708-840 of the Hawaii Penal Code. 1 He appeals from the judgment entered by the First Circuit Court on February 18, 1976, which sentenced him to the custody of the Director of Social Services and Housing for imprisonment in the Hawaii State Prison for four years as to each of such counts. We reverse. Although appellant advances eight grounds for reversal of his conviction, the only issue which merits our consideration is whether

Page 349

the expert testimony offered by appellant was properly ruled irrelevant. 2

On August 13, 1975, the grand jury returned an indictment charging appellant with two counts of escape in the second degree, one count of theft in the first degree and six counts of robbery in the first degree. The court below granted a separate trial for each of the escape charges. Appellant was found guilty of each escape in the second degree and these convictions were affirmed upon appeal in State v. Smith, 59 Haw. ---, 583 P.2d 337 (1978), and State v. Smith, 59 Haw. ---, 583 P.2d 337 (1978).

On January 27, 1975, appellant was taken from the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility (HYCF) 3 to the Honolulu Police [59 Haw. 567] Department and questioned about an alleged robbery. During the interrogation, the appellant allegedly confessed.

Before trial appellant made a Motion to Suppress his confession which was denied. During the hearing on the Motion to Suppress to determine the voluntariness of the confession, HRS § 621-26 (1976), which took place in the absence of the jury, both appellant and John Garguilo testified that the appellant had taken LSD prior to the time he was picked up at the HYCF and Dr. Larry Severson testified that the general effects of LSD on human beings included altered thought processes and inversion of one's normal reality. Officer Au, who interrogated and took the oral confession from the appellant testified that the appellant had appeared "normal." The trial court ruled that the confession was voluntary and admissible in evidence for the consideration of the jury. The testimony in support of the voluntariness of the confession, the confession itself and the signed waiver of rights form all support the conclusion of the trial judge and the exercise of the court's discretion is not in issue.

At trial, the court permitted Garguilo to testify before the jury that the appellant had taken LSD prior to being taken into custody for questioning. Appellant's attempt to introduce the doctor's testimony before the jury was rejected by the court. Appellant made an offer of proof regarding the doctor's testimony by incorporating his testimony given in the motion to suppress hearing. The trial court ruled that the medical testimony was inadmissible based on a broad finding that it was irrelevant.

No precise test of relevancy is furnished by the law. All relevant evidence is admissible unless some rule compels its exclusion. Evidence is relevant if it tends to prove a fact in controversy or renders a matter in issue more or less probable. State v. Irebaria, 55 Haw. 353, 519 P.2d 1246 (1974); Territory v. Henry, 39 Haw. 296 (1952); Bonacon v. Wax, 37 Haw. 57, Reh. den. 37 Haw. 106 (1945); State v. Gagnon, 383 A.2d 25 (Me.1978); People v. Arabadjis, 403 N.Y.S.2d 674 (Sup.1978); State v. Ward, 172 Conn. 163, 374 A.2d 168 (1976);

Page 350

State v. Lee, 87 Wash.2d 932, 558 P.2d 236 (1976). Our laws give a criminal defendant the right to introduce evidence [59 Haw. 568] of those relevant and material facts which logically tend to prove the issues involved and which is not otherwise excluded. As this court stated in Bonacon v. Wax, 37 Haw. at 61, Quoted with approval in State v. Irebaria, 55 Haw. at 356, 519 P.2d at 1248:

The test of admissibility is not one of absolute proof of an ultimate fact in controversy but involves the question of relevancy of proof, relevancy not being dependent upon the conclusiveness of...

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16 practice notes
  • State v. Pauline, No. 22961.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Hawai'i
    • December 26, 2002
    ...(internal quotation marks omitted); see also State v. Torres, 60 Haw. 271, 60 P.3d 315 277, 589 P.2d 83, 87 (1978); State v. Smith, 59 Haw. 565, 569, 583 P.2d 347, 350 (1978), overruled on other grounds by State v. Kelekolio, 74 Haw. 479, 849 P.2d 58 (1993). Generally, the trial court abuse......
  • 80 Hawai'i 382, State v. Wallace, No. 16175
    • United States
    • Hawaii Supreme Court
    • January 10, 1996
    ...between the relevance and sufficiency of evidence: This rule restates existing [Hawai'i] law. In State v. Smith, 59 H[aw.] 565, 567, 583 P.2d 347, 349 (1978), the court defined the concept of relevance: "Evidence is relevant if it tends to prove a fact in controversy or renders a matter in ......
  • State v. Kelekolio, No. 15798
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Hawai'i
    • April 15, 1993
    ...the "totality of circumstances" relevant to the issue of the voluntariness of his or her custodial statements. See, e.g., State v. Smith, 59 Haw. 565, 567-71, 583 P.2d 347, 349-51 (1978) (medical testimony as to general psychological effects of LSD held relevant to determining whether defen......
  • Johnson for Galdeira v. Robert's Hawaii Tour, Inc., No. 7985
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Hawai'i
    • April 25, 1983
    ...Rule 402, Hawaii Rules of Evidence (HRE), Title 33, chapter 626, Hawaii Revised Statutes (effective January 1, 1981). 3 State v. Smith, 59 Haw. 565, 583 P.2d 347 Relevant evidence is evidence having any tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination o......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
16 cases
  • State v. Pauline, No. 22961.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Hawai'i
    • December 26, 2002
    ...(internal quotation marks omitted); see also State v. Torres, 60 Haw. 271, 60 P.3d 315 277, 589 P.2d 83, 87 (1978); State v. Smith, 59 Haw. 565, 569, 583 P.2d 347, 350 (1978), overruled on other grounds by State v. Kelekolio, 74 Haw. 479, 849 P.2d 58 (1993). Generally, the trial court abuse......
  • 80 Hawai'i 382, State v. Wallace, No. 16175
    • United States
    • Hawaii Supreme Court
    • January 10, 1996
    ...between the relevance and sufficiency of evidence: This rule restates existing [Hawai'i] law. In State v. Smith, 59 H[aw.] 565, 567, 583 P.2d 347, 349 (1978), the court defined the concept of relevance: "Evidence is relevant if it tends to prove a fact in controversy or renders a matter in ......
  • State v. Kelekolio, No. 15798
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Hawai'i
    • April 15, 1993
    ...the "totality of circumstances" relevant to the issue of the voluntariness of his or her custodial statements. See, e.g., State v. Smith, 59 Haw. 565, 567-71, 583 P.2d 347, 349-51 (1978) (medical testimony as to general psychological effects of LSD held relevant to determining whether defen......
  • Johnson for Galdeira v. Robert's Hawaii Tour, Inc., No. 7985
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Hawai'i
    • April 25, 1983
    ...Rule 402, Hawaii Rules of Evidence (HRE), Title 33, chapter 626, Hawaii Revised Statutes (effective January 1, 1981). 3 State v. Smith, 59 Haw. 565, 583 P.2d 347 Relevant evidence is evidence having any tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination o......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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