HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
THIRTY-FIRST LEGISLATURE, 2021
STATE OF HAWAII
A BILL FOR AN ACT
RELATING TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:
SECTION 1. The legislature finds that Oregon has adopted a pioneering approach to addressing certain challenges associated with prosecuting domestic violence cases in which the victims are uncooperative. Victims in these cases are often reluctant to testify in court and may ignore court subpoenas to appear for trial. This reluctance has been attributed to fear of the perpetrator, consequences threatened by the perpetrator if the victim testifies, or more generally to the complicated dynamic of abusive relationships in which the abuser wields power and control over the victim while promising to change and begging for forgiveness between acts of violence.
More specifically, the legislature finds that Oregon's rules of evidence provide a limited hearsay exception for a statement made by a victim of domestic violence to a government official within twenty-four hours of a domestic violence attack, even if the statement is testimonial in nature, as long as the statement bears "sufficient indicia of reliability", which is a determination made by the trial judge.
The legislature notes that the general prohibition on the use of hearsay evidence stems from the federal and state constitutional right of a defendant in a criminal trial to confront the defendant's accusers. This right was examined at length in the United States Supreme Court's 2004 opinion in Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36, and clarified by the Court in Davis v. Washington, 547 U.S. 813 (2006) and Michigan v. Bryant, 562 U.S. 344 (2011). However, a 2017 article in the Boston College Journal of Law and Social Justice noted that Oregon's hearsay exception adequately safeguards a defendant's confrontation right by setting a clear time limit for the admissible hearsay statement to be made, and that in a domestic violence context, victim statements made within twenty‑four hours of an incident are the most reliable. After this window, the willingness of victims to cooperate diminishes, the potential for coercion increases, and memories become less clear.
The legislature further notes that Oregon's hearsay exception is premised on a policy approach that treats domestic violence cases as a form of "ongoing emergency". That is, given the statistics showing that incidents of domestic violence tend to escalate over time and sometimes culminate in the victim's death, the mere fact that a single domestic violence attack has ended does not necessarily mean that the emergency has ended. The legislature believes that recognition of a domestic violence incident as being part of a larger ongoing emergency is what distinguishes, and makes admissible in certain circumstances, what may otherwise be considered an inadmissible hearsay statement under Davis v. Washington; Michigan v. Bryant; and State v. Fields, 115 Haw. 503 (2007), a Hawaii supreme court opinion that discussed the holdings of the aforementioned federal cases. The legislature further believes that to effectively prosecute domestic violence cases and hold offenders accountable, the Hawaii rules of evidence must strike a balance between protecting the constitutional rights of defendants while promoting the safety of domestic violence victims and the larger society. In striking this balance, the legislature realizes that there may be constitutional problems with Oregon's hearsay exception, and thus has added features to further protect defendants' rights and maintain constitutionality under Michigan v. Bryant, while also preserving the intent of Oregon's exception.
Accordingly, the purpose of this Act is to allow a narrow hearsay exception for statements made by a domestic violence victim during the course of the first interaction with the responding law enforcement officers and before the defendant is arrested, regardless of the availability of the declarant, as long as the statement bears sufficient indicia of reliability.
SECTION 2. Section 626-1, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending rule 803, subsection (b), to read as follows:
"(b) Other exceptions.
(1) Present sense impression. A statement describing or explaining an event or condition made while the declarant was perceiving the event or condition or immediately thereafter.
(2) Excited utterance. A statement relating to a startling event or condition made while the declarant was under the stress of excitement caused by the event or condition.
(3) Then existing mental, emotional, or physical
condition. A statement of the
declarant's then existing state of mind, emotion, sensation, or physical
(such], such as intent, plan, motive, design, mental
feeling, pain, and bodily health[ )], but not including a statement of memory
or belief to prove the fact remembered or believed unless it relates to the
execution, revocation, identification, or terms of the declarant's will.
(4) Statements for purposes of medical diagnosis or treatment. Statements made for purposes of medical diagnosis or treatment and describing medical history, or past or present symptoms, pain, or sensations, or the inception or general character of the cause or external source thereof insofar as reasonably pertinent to diagnosis or treatment.
(6) Records of regularly conducted activity. A memorandum, report, record, or data compilation, in any form, of acts, events, conditions, opinions, or diagnoses, made in the course of a regularly conducted activity, at or near the time of the acts, events, conditions, opinions, or diagnoses, as shown by the testimony of the custodian or other qualified witness, or by certification that complies with rule 902(11) or a statute permitting certification, unless the sources of information or other circumstances indicate lack of trustworthiness.
(7) Absence of entry in records kept in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (6). Evidence that a matter is not included in the memoranda, reports, records, or data compilations, in any form, kept in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (6), to prove the nonoccurrence or nonexistence of the matter, if the matter was of a kind of which a memorandum, report, record, or data compilation was regularly made and preserved, unless the sources of information or other circumstances indicate lack of trustworthiness.
(8) Public records and reports. Records, reports, statements, or data compilations, in any form, of public offices or agencies, setting forth (A) the activities of the office or agency, or (B) matters observed pursuant to duty imposed by law as to which matters there was a duty to report, excluding, however, in criminal cases matters observed by police officers and other law enforcement personnel, or (C) in civil proceedings and against the government in criminal cases, factual findings resulting from an investigation made pursuant to authority granted by law, unless the sources of information or other circumstances indicate lack of trustworthiness.
(9) Records of vital statistics. Records or data compilations, in any form, of births, fetal deaths, deaths, or marriages, if the report thereof was made to a public office pursuant to requirements of law.
(10) Absence of public record or entry. To prove the absence of a record, report, statement, or data compilation, in any form, or the nonoccurrence or nonexistence of a matter of which a record, report, statement, or data compilation, in any form, was regularly made and preserved by a public office or agency, evidence in the form of a certification in accordance with rule 902, or testimony, that diligent search failed to disclose the record, report, statement, or data compilation, or entry.
(11) Records of religious organizations. Statements of births, marriages, divorces, deaths, legitimacy, ancestry, relationship by blood or marriage, or other similar facts of personal or family history, contained in a regularly kept record of a religious organization.
(12) Marriage, baptismal, and similar certificates. Statements of fact contained in a certificate
that the maker performed a marriage or other ceremony or administered a
sacrament, made by a [
clergyman,] clergy, public official, or
other person authorized by the rules or practices of a religious organization
or by law to perform the act certified, and purporting to have been issued at
the time of the act or within a reasonable time thereafter.
(13) Family records. Statements of fact concerning personal or family history contained in family Bibles, genealogies, charts, engravings on rings, inscriptions on family portraits, engravings on urns, crypts, or tombstones, or the like.
(14) Records of documents affecting an interest in property. The record of a document purporting to establish or affect an interest in property, as proof of the content of the original recorded document and its execution and delivery by each person by whom it purports to have been executed, if the record is a record of a public office and an applicable statute authorizes the recording of documents of that kind in that office.
(15) Statements in documents affecting an interest in property. A statement contained in a document purporting to establish or affect an interest in property if the matter stated was relevant to the purpose of the document, unless the circumstances indicate lack of trustworthiness.
(16) Statements in ancient documents. Statements in a document in existence twenty years or more the authenticity of which is established.
(17) Market reports, commercial publications. Market quotations, tabulations, lists, directories, or other published compilations, generally used and relied upon by the public or by persons in particular occupations.
(18) Learned treatises. To the extent called to the attention of an
expert witness upon cross-examination or relied upon by the witness in direct
examination, statements contained in published treatises, periodicals, or
pamphlets on a subject of history, medicine, or other science or art,
established as a reliable authority by the testimony or admission of the
witness or by other expert testimony or by judicial notice. If admitted, the statements may be read into
evidence but [
may] shall not be received as exhibits.
(19) Reputation concerning personal or family
history. Reputation among members of the
person's family by blood, adoption, or marriage, or among the person's
associates, or in the community, concerning a person's birth[
adoption[ ,]; marriage[ ,]; divorce[ ,];
death[ ,]; legitimacy[ ,]; relationship by blood,
adoption, or marriage[ ,]; ancestry[ ,]; or other
similar fact of the person's personal or family history.
(20) Reputation concerning boundaries or general
history. Reputation in a community,
arising before the controversy, as to boundaries of or customs affecting lands in
the community, and reputation as to events of general history important to the
or], state, or nation in which located.
(21) Reputation as to character. In proving character or a trait of character under rules 404 and 405, reputation of a person's character among the person's associates or in the community.
(22) Judgment of previous conviction. Evidence of a final judgment, entered after a
trial or upon a plea of guilty [
(but], but not upon a plea of
nolo contendere[ )], adjudging a person guilty of a crime punishable by
death or imprisonment in excess of one year, to prove any fact essential to
sustain the judgment, but not including, when offered by the government in a
criminal prosecution for purposes other than impeachment, judgments against
persons other than the accused. The
pendency of an appeal may be shown but does not affect admissibility.
(23) Judgment as to personal, family, or general history, or boundaries. Judgments as proof of matters of personal, family, or general history, or boundaries, essential to the judgment, if the same would be provable by evidence of reputation.
(24) Statement by a victim of domestic violence.
(A) A statement that purports to narrate, describe, report, or explain an incident of domestic violence, as defined in section 321-471, made by a victim of that domestic violence during the course of the first interaction with the responding law enforcement officers as defined in section 139-1 and before the defendant is arrested, regardless of the availability of the declarant, if the statement has sufficient indicia of reliability; provided that the statement shall not be admissible if, when objectively considered, the primary purpose of the statement was not to enable assistance to meet an ongoing emergency, including any statement given at a later time or any statement made solely for the purpose of producing trial evidence.
(B) In determining whether a statement has sufficient indicia of reliability, the court shall consider all circumstances surrounding the statement. In determining whether a statement has sufficient indicia of reliability, the court may consider:
(i) The personal knowledge of the declarant;
(ii) Whether the statement is corroborated by evidence other than statements that are subject to admission only pursuant to this paragraph, if the evidence exists;
(iii) The timing of the statement; and
(iv) Whether the statement was elicited by leading questions.
Recantation by a declarant is not a sufficient reason for denying admission of a statement under this paragraph in the absence of other factors indicating unreliability.
Other exceptions. A statement not
specifically covered by any of the exceptions in this [ paragraph (b)] subsection
but having equivalent circumstantial guarantees of trustworthiness, if the
court determines that:
The statement is more probative on the point for which it is offered
than any other evidence [ which] that the proponent can procure
through reasonable efforts[ ,]; and
the] The general purposes of
these rules and the interests of justice will best be served by admission of
the statement into evidence.
However, a statement [
not be admitted under this exception unless the proponent of it makes known to
the adverse party sufficiently in advance of the trial or hearing to provide
the adverse party with a fair opportunity to prepare to meet it, the
proponent's intention to offer the statement and the particulars of it,
including the name and address of the declarant."
SECTION 3. This Act does not affect rights and duties that matured, penalties that were incurred, and proceedings that were begun before its effective date.
SECTION 4. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.
SECTION 5. This Act shall take effect on July 1, 3021.
Rules of Evidence; Hearsay Exceptions; Domestic Violence
Allows a narrow hearsay exception for statements made by domestic violence victims during the course of the first interaction with the responding law enforcement officers and before the arrest of the defendant, as long as the statement bears sufficient indicia of reliability. Effective 7/1/3021. (HD1)
The summary description of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.