Creating Winning Relationships Between Pro Hac Vice and Local Counsel

Perspectives:  Louise Ing

by Michelle N. Comeau

Hawai`i courts make clear that out-of-state counsel representing clients pro hac vice in Hawai`i must associate with one or more Hawai`i attorneys, and that Hawai`i counsel are expected to participate meaningfully in all aspects of the case (including serving as lead trial counsel, if the case reaches that stage).  In theory, teaming up an out of town attorney who specializes in a particular legal area or client with a Hawai`i attorney who is well-versed in bringing or defending that type of litigation here in Hawai`i should deliver top results that enhance what either lawyer or firm could accomplish on her own.

As recognized by most attorneys who have been in these relationships, however, it’s not always smooth sailing.  What are the features of the pro hac vice/local counsel relationship that best reflect a true strategic alliance between counsel?  And how do you get there?

Louise Ing estimates that she has served as local counsel on scores of matters over 35 years of practice in Hawai`i, from patent infringement to breach of contract and everything in between.  Ing views these matters as more than ordinary cases; they are opportunities to observe firsthand how other law firms run their cases and to work with accomplished attorneys nationwide.

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Tips from Hawai`i Judges

Practitioner tips from the bench, in seven parts

By Joshua Michaels, Sean Wong and Michelle Comeau

The May 2014 issue of the Hawaii Bar Journal detailed a myriad of different practitioner tips from state and federal judges at all levels in Hawai`i.   In the coming weeks, we will share with you practical and detailed tips from judges of the Hawai`i Supreme Court, the Intermediate Court of Appeals, the Hawai`i Circuit Court, the Hawai`i District Court, the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawai`i, and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Hawai`i.

Part 1 – Ground Rules  

First, here are some general dos and don’ts distilled from all the judges. We think they would agree that you should follow these tips in any courtroom.

  •  Behave yourself.  Be courteous, civil, and respectful – not just to the judge, but to your opponent and the court staff as well.  Always say “please” and “thank you.”  Don’t argue with the judge or bicker with opposing counsel.  Accept the court’s decisions.  Don’t whine.  Don’t talk over people — especially the judge.

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Appealing a Final Judgment in Hawaiʻi State Court: The Jenkins Standard

By Sean Wong and Michelle Comeau

The May 2014 issue of the Hawaii Bar Journal compiles a priceless list of dos and don’ts for attorneys appearing in court.  Susan Pang Gochros’ article, Tips from Hawaiʻi Judges, offers general advice from both state and federal judges for attorneys stepping into Hawai`i court for the first time, as well as more pointed recommendations pertaining to court-specific rules.

In particular, the Hawaiʻi Intermediate Court of Appeals (“ICA”) judges offered a firm reminder to comply with the separate document requirement set forth in Jenkins v. Cades Schutte Fleming & Wright, 76 Hawaii 115, 869 P.2d 1334 (1994).  Despite Jenkins being precedent for nearly two decades here in Hawaiʻi, the ICA judges still report dismissing a significant number of appeals due to a failure to comply with the Jenkins standards.

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Changes Proposed to Hawai`i Continuing Legal Education

Comments accepted through August 26, 2014

 By Michelle N. Comeau

Beginning next year, continuing legal education in Hawai`i could include a wider variety of programming, a mandatory ethics and professional responsibility component, and the elimination of the category of “voluntary continuing legal education” in favor of a single mandatory requirement.

The Supreme Court of Hawai`i is proposing to modify the continuing legal education requirements of Hawai`i lawyers. If approved, the changes could take effect as early as January 1, 2015.

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Settlement Conference Dos and Don’ts

A District of Hawai`i federal judge and local practitioners weigh in on why settlement conferences aren’t just by the numbers.

By John S. Rhee

If he could, U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Kevin S. C. Chang would make it a District of Hawai`i requirement for parties to exchange good faith offers and settlement conference statements to make the settlement conference process more transparent and efficient. This was among the points raised at a recent brownbag discussion presented by the Federal Bar Association, Hawai`i Chapter, on “Settlement Conference Dos and Don’ts.” Speakers included Magistrate Judge Chang along with local practitioners Richard L. Fried and John S. Nishimoto.

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New Electronic Device Policy at Federal Court

It’s a go for gadgets, with guidelines; photography is still forbidden

By Joshua Michaels and Michelle N. Comeau

Many Hawai`i attorneys consider their laptops, smartphones and tablets essential to their law practice (not to mention their personal lives). And while it’s hard not to feel “glued” to our devices, there are still some places where devices must remain strictly in pockets and purses. Anyone who has felt aggrieved by the glowing lights of fellow patrons texting in a movie theater knows this.

For a long time, the courthouse was kind of like the movie theater – phones and laptops were either stopped at security or kept hidden as to not risk a judge’s ire. But as technology has become critical to both work life and family life, traditional prohibitions are gradually being relaxed.

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Magistrate Judges’ Expectations: Preparation, Credibility, & Civility

Practice tips from Hawai`i’s Federal Magistrate Judges Kurren, Chang, and Puglisi

By Jessica Cooney and Louise Ing

In the February 2014 issue of the Hawai`i Bar Journal, Hawai`i Federal Magistrate Judges Barry M. Kurren, Kevin S.C. Chang, and Richard Puglisi were interviewed about their expectations for lawyers practicing in their courts. Continuing a path of past panel discussions featuring Hawai`i judges, the overarching themes of the interviews were: preparation, credibility, and civility.

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Litigators’ and Businessperson’s Guide to “Omiyage” Hawai`i-Style

By Louise Ing

Or, “What should I take home in my briefcase when a pineapple just won’t fit?” 

Long breaks during a mediation session can result in all kinds of topics being discussed, as parties and counsel wait for a caucus with the mediator.  As a result, in between our posts about law and procedure, we’ve written on a lighter note about the most frequently asked questions from visiting lawyers and clients, such as “What should I wear in court?”  or “Where should I eat after a long day in court?” 

One of the topics that arose during a recent Honolulu mediation was the critical mission given to our Mainland-based clients by their office staff: “Bring back cookies from Big Island Candies!” That led to a broader discussion, one open to lively debate, of favorite goodies to bring back from Hawai`i for friends, co-workers and family. In Hawai`i (and Japan, where the word originated), we commonly refer to such treats as “omiyage” – candies and other edible gifts to take home from travels for co-workers and family.

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Hawai`i Charter Schools Deemed State Entities

In Lindsey v. Matayoshi, the statewide nature of Hawai`i’s education system affords charter schools Eleventh Amendment immunity from suit

 By Lucas J. Myers

In Lindsey v. Matayoshi, Civ. No. 11-00713 JMS-KSC, 950 F. Supp. 2d 1159 (June 19, 2013), Judge Seabright granted the State’s motion for summary judgment, finding that Kanu O Ka ‘Aina New Century Public Charter School was a state entity to which Eleventh Amendment immunity properly applied, barring suits against the school for damages.

Parents brought suit on behalf of their minor daughter who had been expelled from the school, asserting claims for violation of due process and the Hawai`i Administrative Rules and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Continue reading

Timely matters

A post-judgment motion for costs under HRCP Rule 54(d)(1) does not qualify as a timely motion for purposes of the tolling and deemed denial provisions of HRAP Rule 4(a)(3).
Woodruff v Hawai’i Pacific Health, No. 29447, 2014 WL 128607 (Haw. App. Slip Op. Jan. 14, 2014)

By Anderson Meyer

In January of this year, the State of Hawai`i Intermediate Court of Appeals clarified that, after the 2006 amendments to HRAP Rule 4, an HRCP Rule 54(d) post-judgment motion for costs does not trigger the tolling provisions of HRAP Rule 4.

Procedural Background:

October 6, 2008: Circuit Court enters its Final Judgment.

October 13, 2008: Defendants file their “Notice of Taxation of Costs.”

October 21, 2008: Plaintiffs file objections to the Defendants’ Notice of Taxation of Costs.

October 30, 2008: Prior to the Circuit Court Clerk’s disposition of the Taxation of Costs, Plaintiffs file their notice of appeal from the Final Judgment.

November 6, 2008: The Clerk of the Circuit Court denies the Defendants’ request for costs.

November 14, 2008: Pursuant to HRCP Rule 54(d)(1), the Defendants file their motion for costs which requests that the Circuit Court review the Clerk’s denial of their request for costs; the Circuit Court does not rule on the Defendants’ Rule 54(d)(1) Motion for Costs within 90 days.

April 13, 2009: Defendants file their notice of appeal from the Circuit Court’s “deemed denial” of their motion for costs. In their notice of appeal, the Defendants assert that the Circuit Court had not disposed of their motion for costs and therefore, the motion was “deemed denied” 90 days after it was filed, pursuant to HRAP Rule 4(a)(3) (2006).

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