Hawaii Revised Statutes 402 Relevant Evidence Generally Admissible; Irrelevant Evidence Inadmissible.

Rule 402 Relevant evidence generally admissible; irrelevant evidence inadmissible. All relevant evidence is admissible, except as otherwise provided by the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Hawaii, by statute, by these rules, or by other rules adopted by the supreme court. Evidence which is not relevant is not admissible. [L 1980, c 164, pt of §1]

Rule 402 Commentary

This rule, similar to Fed. R. Evid. 402, establishes the basic precondition for admissibility of all evidence: it must be "relevant" as that term is defined in Rule 401. In State v. Smith, 59 H. 565, 567-68, 583 P.2d 347, 349-50 (1978), the court held: "All relevant evidence is admissible unless some rule compels its exclusion.... Our laws give a [party] the right to introduce evidence of those relevant and material facts which logically tend to prove the issues involved and which is not otherwise excluded." See State v. Irebaria, 55 H. 353, 519 P.2d 1246 (1974); Territory v. Henry, 39 H. 296 (1952); Bonacon v. Wax, 37 H. 57 (1945).

There are, of course, many qualifications to the general admissibility of relevant evidence. The exclusionary rule in criminal cases, see, e.g., State v. Santiago, 53 H. 254, 492 P.2d 657 (1971), is a prime example. Rule 403 infra, requires exclusion of relevant evidence whenever the relevance or probative value is "substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or misleading the jury, or by considerations of undue delay, waste of time, or needless presentation of cumulative evidence." Privilege (Article V) and hearsay (Article VIII) rules frequently interpose a bar to the receipt of relevant evidence.

Case Notes

Trial court did not err in ruling that evidence of motorcyclist's nonuse of helmet was not relevant under rule 401, and thus, not admissible under this rule. 74 H. 308, 844 P.2d 670 (1993).

Evidence regarding search warrant was inadmissible as irrelevant where existence of search warrant was not relevant to issue of whether police officer's murder arose out of performance of official duties. 75 H. 282, 859 P.2d 1369 (1993).

Expert medical testimony that "permanent, serious disfigurement" would have resulted absent medical attention irrelevant where that result was an element of the charged offense; thus testimony was inadmissible under this section. 80 H. 126, 906 P.2d 612 (1995).

Evidence that victim had $2,300 in cash on person after the shooting excluded as irrelevant where fact of consequence was defendant's state of mind at the time of shooting and reasonableness of that state of mind. 80 H. 307, 909 P.2d 1122 (1996).

Evidence of gross weight of cocaine relevant and properly admitted as it made the "consequential fact" that cocaine's net weight was at least one ounce more probable than it would be without the evidence. 80 H. 382, 910 P.2d 695 (1996).

Where purpose of exhibiting individual to jury is relevant to an issue in dispute and does not contravene any other evidentiary requirements, exhibition admissible. 81 H. 15, 911 P.2d 735 (1996).

Accomplice's testimony regarding other accomplice's prior bad acts was not relevant to defendant's claim of duress under §702-231 and was, therefore, inadmissible under this rule. 101 H. 269, 67 P.3d 768 (2003).

Where evidence that child was a victim of battered child syndrome was relevant to show that child's death was not an accident, but the result of an intentional, knowing or reckless criminal act, giving rise to a duty on defendant's part to obtain medical care for child pursuant to §663-1.6, trial court did not err in admitting expert testimony that child was a victim of battered child syndrome. 101 H. 332, 68 P.3d 606 (2003).

Proffered evidence properly excluded as irrelevant. 4 H. App. 175, 664 P.2d 262.

Defendant's failure to proclaim defendant's innocence to cellmate was irrelevant under rule 401 and, thus, not admissible by virtue of this rule. 104 H. 203, 87 P.3d 275 (2004).

Although evidence that defendant had previously been convicted of a felony was relevant for purposes of §134-7, evidence that defendant may have received ineffective assistance of counsel during that prior felony trial would not have any bearing on the validity of that felony conviction; thus, trial court did not err in precluding evidence that defendant may have received ineffective assistance during prior trial. 90 H. 489 (App.), 979 P.2d 85 (1999).

Trial court did not err in admitting seatbelt buckle patent into evidence under rules 401, 403 and this rule for the limited purpose of showing a defect in the seatbelt where the language in the patent that "known mechanisms are complicated, and some do not positively retain the latch plate" may have evinced a defect in the seatbelt that could have resulted in inertial or inadvertent release in the case, as well as defendant's knowledge of such a defect. 121 H. 143 (App.), 214 P.3d 1133 (2009).

Mentioned: 129 H. 250 (App.), 297 P.3d 1106 (2013).

Last modified: October 27, 2016