Hawaii state senators want to see draft bill before deciding on special session




  • In US
  • 2022-09-28 04:01:00Z
  • By The Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Sep. 28-State senators want to that would give prosecutors more options to charge major crimes before they decide whether to convene a special session of the Legislature, according to Senate leadership.

The decision comes after Senate President Ron Kouchi said Monday that he would formally re-engage with members to determine if the Senate has the two-thirds majority needed to convene.

Senators indicated to leadership Monday that they wanted to see and review a draft bill before indicating whether or not a special session is needed.

House Speaker Scott Saiki said Monday that his chamber has reached consensus on moving forward with a special session.

State lawmakers are working on a bill that would restore prosecutors' ability to charge serious felonies through grand jury proceedings or preliminary hearings before a judge. A ruling on Sept. 8 made clear that preli ­minary hearings are not a lawful method for charging major crimes, including murder, arson, robbery and sex assault.

State Sen. Karl Rhoads, chair of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary has a draft bill he is working on with Rep. Mark Nakashima, chair of the House Committee on Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs.

The bill would bring back the process used before State v. Richard Obrero was decided and allowing two paths to charge the most serious crimes. If the bill passes both chambers and signed by the governor, prosecutors will be able to charge suspects through a hearing before a judge followed by a criminal complaint, or by taking the case to a grand jury for indictment.

The Obrero decision leaves prosecutors only one course to charge serious crimes, presenting evidence to a grand jury.

County prosecutors are teaming up to push lawmakers and Gov. David Ige to convene a special session, citing nearly 400 felony cases statewide that could be nullified if they are not re-charged via a grand jury.

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