... In the early morning of August 31, 1978, defendant left his home in Kula, Maui, [and] drove his wife's yellow Datsun station wagon... along Kamehameha Highway and entered onto Hana Highway. While travelling along Hana Highway, defendant's auto crossed over the centerline and struck an oncoming car, fatally injuring a passenger therein.
Defendant contends that it was error for the court to allow Mrs. Peacock to testify as to her observations of a yellow car earlier than the period immediately prior to the accident.
Peacock testified that she saw a small yellow vehicle pass her a few minutes before the accident and proceed to make three to four quick lane changes in traffic. She testified that her thought at that time was, “There is a dangerous driver,” and that he was breaking the law. She later caught up with the same car at a stoplight. As they proceeded after stopping for the light, the small yellow car suddenly veered across the centerline and collided with the oncoming car.
Defendant contends that Mrs. Peacock's testimony regarding the movement of the car, except for the time from and after the stoplight, was too remote from the moment of impact to be relevant...
The evidence was illustrative of the manner in which defendant was driving his vehicle prior to the accident. The prosecutor was entitled to prove this as evidence of defendant's conduct and whether, under all of the circumstances, he should have perceived a risk resulting from his conduct.
The manner in which defendant's car was being driven was a factor which the jury could have considered in determining whether defendant was negligent and, therefore, was relevant. The court did not err.
STATE v. ALSTON
75 Haw. 517, 865 P.2d 157, 168 (1994)
[Defendant was convicted ... of terroristic threatening in the second degree, and he appealed. ... Affirmed] ...
“[D]ifferent standards of review must be applied to trial court decisions regarding the admissibility of evidence, depending on the requirements of the particular rule of evidence at issue.” Kealoha v. County of Hawai'i, 74 Haw. 308… (1993). Trial court determinations made pursuant to HRE 401 are reviewed under the right/wrong standard of review. Id. On the other hand, decisions made under evidentiary rules requiring a “judgment call” are reviewed for abuse of discretion. Id. …. Specifically, the abuse of discretion standard applies to a trial court's resolution of a HRE 403 objection. Likewise, HRE 404 “represents a particularized application of the principle of [HRE] 403” (see Commentary to HRE 404), and we will employ the same abuse of discretion standard of review.
A BARKAI NOTE: Sometimes it seems like everything is relevant by the Rule 401 standard. SO WHAT IS NOT RELEVANT? Remember, to determine relevancy, one must look to the substantive law the governs the parties' dispute. On the next two pages, there are a few examples of what was not relevant.