HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

H.B. NO.

2675

THIRTIETH LEGISLATURE, 2020

 

STATE OF HAWAII

 

 

 

 

 

 

A BILL FOR AN ACT

 

 

relating to the judiciary.

 

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

 


SECTION 1. The legislature finds that the fair, independent, and impartial administration of justice is a long-standing value of American jurisprudence. In Hawaii, judges are required to be recused from hearing matters for which they have a disqualifying relationship, pecuniary interest, previous judgment, or other perceived bias or prejudice. The legislature notes that this recusal may be achieved voluntarily or through the filing of an affidavit by a party to a suit, action, or proceeding alleging that the judge before whom the action or proceeding is to be tried has a disqualifying personal bias or prejudice.

The legislature finds that at the appellate level, authorizing the filing of a motion for a hearing on a possible conflict of interest when a party to a suit, action, or proceeding believes that a judge or justice hearing the appellate case has a disqualifying conflict of interest would facilitate a valuable colloquy regarding impartiality, allow a judge or justice the opportunity to rebut any allegation of a disqualifying conflict of interest, and promote transparency within the State's judiciary.

Accordingly, the purpose of this Act is to require an appellate court to conduct a hearing when a party to any suit, action, or proceeding of the appellate court files a motion for hearing on possible conflict of interest.

SECTION 2. Section 601-7, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:

"601-7 Disqualification of judge[;] or justice; relationship, pecuniary interest, previous judgment, bias or prejudice. (a) No person shall sit as a judge in any case in which:

(1) The judge's relative by affinity or consanguinity within the third degree is counsel, or interested either as a plaintiff or defendant, or in the issue of which the judge has, either directly or through [such] the relative, a more than de minimis pecuniary interest; or

(2) The judge has been of counsel or on an appeal from any decision or judgment rendered by the judge;

provided that no interests held by mutual or common funds, the investment or divestment of which are not subject to the direction of the judge, shall be considered pecuniary interests for purposes of this section; and after full disclosure on the record, parties may waive disqualification due to any pecuniary interest.

(b) Whenever a party to any suit, action, or proceeding, civil or criminal, makes and files an affidavit that the judge before whom the action or proceeding is to be tried or heard has a personal bias or prejudice either against the party or in favor of any opposite party to the suit, the judge shall be disqualified from proceeding therein. Every such affidavit shall state the facts and the reasons for the belief that bias or prejudice exists and shall be filed [before] prior to the trial or hearing of the action or proceeding, or good cause shall be shown for the failure to file [it] the affidavit within [such] that time. No party shall be entitled in any case to file more than one affidavit; and no affidavit shall be filed unless accompanied by a certificate of counsel of record that the affidavit is made in good faith. Any judge may [disqualify oneself] recuse themself by filing with the clerk of the court [of] for which the judge [is a judge] presides a certificate that the judge [deems oneself] is unable for any reason to preside with absolute impartiality in the pending suit or action.

(c) Notwithstanding subsection (b), a party to any suit, action, or proceeding being heard in any appellate court in the State may file a motion for a hearing on possible conflict of interest when the party believes that any judge or justice before whom the pending suit or action is to be tried or heard may have a disqualifying conflict of interest resulting in a personal bias or prejudice either against the party or in favor of any opposite party to the suit. The motion shall state the facts and the reasons for the belief that bias or prejudice exists and shall be filed prior to the trial or hearing of the action or proceeding, or good cause shall be shown for the failure to file the motion within that time. No party shall be entitled in any case to file more than one motion for a hearing on possible conflict of interest against a particular judge or justice; and no motion shall be filed unless accompanied by a certificate of counsel of record that the motion is made in good faith. The remaining judges or justices on the panel or court hearing the suit, action, or proceeding shall hear and rule on the motion for hearing on possible conflict of interest. The judge or justice who is the subject of the motion shall be disqualified from hearing or ruling on the motion, but shall have the opportunity to:

(1) File a response to the motion; or

(2) Rescue themself by filing with the clerk of the court for which the judge or justice presides a certificate that the judge or justice is unable for any reason to preside with absolute impartiality in the pending suit or action."

SECTION 3. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 4. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.

 

INTRODUCED BY:

_____________________________

 

 


 


 

Report Title:

Judiciary; Supreme Court; Intermediate Court of Appeals; Appellate Courts; Conflicts of Interest; Judges; Justices

 

Description:

Requires an appellate court to conduct a hearing when a conflict of interest pertaining to a judge or justice is alleged by motion of a party to any suit, action, or proceeding of the appellate court.

 

 

 

The summary description of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.