Successful Practice Before the District Courts of the State of Hawai`i

Tips from Hawai`i judges, part 5 of 7

By Joshua Michaels, Sean Wong and Michelle Comeau

Previously, we looked at Tips from Hawai`i Judges of the Hawai`i Supreme Court, the Intermediate Court of Appeals, and the Circuit Courts that were featured in the May 2014 issue of the Hawaii Bar Journal.  This week, we continue our review of judges’ tips, focusing on the District Courts for the State of Hawai`i.   The District Court Judges, whose dockets include traffic violations, civil actions under $40,000, and petitions for temporary restraining orders, stressed responsibility and professionalism:

  • If you have a scheduling conflict, make arrangements and notify the court. Do not fail to appear. Make sure you have a trustworthy calendaring system and a back-up calendaring system.

Continue reading

Making a Good Impression Before the Hawai`i Circuit Court

Tips from Hawai`i judges, part 4 of 7

By Joshua Michaels, Sean Wong and Michelle Comeau

In our previous post, we shared tips from the Intermediate Court of Appeals included in the May 2014 issue of the Hawaii Bar Journal.  This week, we have some great oral argument tips and suggestions from the judges of the Circuit Courts of the State of Hawai`i, which have general jurisdiction in criminal and civil cases.

Always come prepared and assume that the judge has read your pleadings. As such, do not simply reiterate what you have written, but use the time at the hearing to summarily emphasize your major points.

Continue reading

Putting Your Best Foot Forward Before the Intermediate Court of Appeals

Tips from Hawai`i Judges, part 3 of 7

By Joshua Michaels, Sean Wong and Michelle Comeau

Previously, we shared some helpful hints from the Hawai`i Supreme Court for would-be petitioners in briefing, arguing, and requesting relief that were featured in the May 2014 issue of the Hawai`i Bar Journal.  As we continue our examination of Tips from Hawai`i Judges, we move closer to Punchbowl Street to hear from the judges at the Intermediate Court of Appeals.  There are six ICA judges, who sit on panels of three to hear nearly every appeal from Hawai`i’s trial courts and some state agencies.

The Intermediate Court of Appeals (“ICA”) offers useful technical tips for citations.  “When citing to the Record on Appeal and to transcripts, cite the docket entry number in the Judiciary Electronic Filing and Service System (JEFS) and the PDF page number. The ICA uses JEFS to find record citations in briefs, and citing to the docket entry number and PDF page number provides the most helpful way to locate the citation.  Citing only to the date of the transcript makes it difficult to locate the transcript, especially where multiple transcripts are filed.”

Continue reading

Surviving and Thriving Before the Hawai`i Supreme Court

Tips from Hawai`i Judges, part 2 of 7

By Joshua Michaels, Sean Wong and Michelle Comeau

Previously, we shared some useful practice tips from Hawai`i judges that appeared in the May 2014 issue of the Hawaii Bar Journal.  Now, we begin our exploration of more specific, nuanced suggestions at every level of our court system, starting with the Hawai`i Supreme Court.

The Hawai`i Supreme Court Justices offered several pointers for submitting briefs.  They stressed that attorneys must follow the rules, especially the briefing requirements in Rule 28 of the Hawai`i Rules of Appellate Procedure.  They admonished attorneys not to “throw in the kitchen sink,” but to “focus on your strongest issues.”  They also talked about the importance of the record.  “If the issue was not raised at the trial court, it is very difficult to get a “plain error review.”  Also, “when you appear for oral argument, be sure to be completely familiar with the record on appeal. This is true even if you were not the attorney in the trial court. It enhances your credibility as an advocate if you are able to readily answer questions from the court about what the record shows and what it does not show.  Conversely, if you are not familiar with the record, it undercuts the effectiveness of your arguments.”

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading