Revised sentencing law might affect 30 convicts
City Prosecutor Peter Carlisle says about 30 convicts his office put behind bars could ask the courts for resentencing under a new state law.
It provides for a jury to determine facts that could make a convicted felon eligible for extended terms or prison sentences greater than the maximum ordinarily allowed by law.
The new law brings Hawaii statutes into compliance with recent U.S. Supreme Court orders and rulings that juries, not judges, should be the ones to determine facts that could lead to extended terms.
State lawmakers approved the legislation in their recent special session.
Gov. Linda Lingle signed it into law Wednesday.
The effective date is retroactive to 2000, when the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling on a New Jersey case.
The first Hawaii case that will go back to court for resentencing is that of Miti Maugaotega Jr. The U.S. Supreme Court determined in February that Maugaotega's 2004 extended prison sentence of 11 life prison terms -- 10 with the possibility for parole, one without -- is unconstitutional.
A state jury found Maugaotega guilty of attempted second-degree murder, which carries a mandatory life prison term with the possibility for parole. The jury also found him guilty of 10 felonies, including robbery, burglary and sexual assault, which each carry a maximum 20-year prison term. The judge extended the murder sentence to life without the possibility for parole and the 20-year sentences to life with the possibility for parole.
Carlisle, who prosecuted Maugaotega, will also handle the hearing before a jury to determine whether Maugaotega should be subject to extended sentences. The court has yet to schedule the hearing, said Walter Rodby, Maugaotega's attorney.
Not every felon who received an extended term since 2000 automatically gets a resentencing hearing.
State Public Defender Jack Tonaki said those prisoners will have to ask the courts for post-conviction relief. Tonaki said no one has called his office so far to make such a request.
There are also felons who have already filed appeals of their extended sentences.