HONOLULU (KHON2) — Days after a special session was said to be unlikely, Speaker of the House, Scott Saiki said two-thirds of House members agreed to convene.
The special session will address the process by which felony charges are brought against individuals.
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The current method for bringing charges is done by complaint and preliminary hearing. However, a Hawaii Supreme Court case in early September changed that.
Honolulu Prosecutor, Steve Alm said, “The Hawaii Supreme Court in Obrero ruled that this method, complaint and preliminary hearing, is now unlawful because of an obsolete 1905 statute that was overlooked when the constitution was amended 40 years ago. My office has over 160 cases that were charged under the complaint and preliminary hearing process and approved by judges for trial. This includes 25 murders, attempted murders, and manslaughters, over 40 robberies, and many other serious crimes such as arson, kidnapping, and sexual assault. Defense counsel, who have long lauded the virtues of the preliminary hearing process, are now using the Hawaii Supreme Court’s decision to try to free their clients from jail.”
Saiki sent a letter to the senate president informing him of their agreeing to convene a special session. In the letter, Saiki urged President Ronald Kouchi to convene as soon as possible.
The Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Karl Rhoads said they are still working on a draft bill and expect it to be completed no later than the end of the week.
“The house is here to work with the Senate. We want to resolve this in a positive and constructive way working with the senate and the judiciary,” Saiki said. “There’s no proposed legislation at this time, what’s important to remember is that if we do hold a special session ideally the house and senate would have an agreement on the legislation that needs to be approved.”
Meanwhile, County of Hawaii Prosecuting Attorney Kelden Waltjen said prosecutors around the state cannot have this matter delayed any longer.
Waltjen said, “Defense attorneys across the state have already started to take advantage of this decision in filing motions to dismiss cases against their clients. And, you know, what about the victims?”
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There is no specific timeline for when a final decision on whether to go into a special session or not could be made.