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Law School Case Brief

State v. Rocker - 52 Haw 336, 475 P.2d 684 (1970)

Rule:

Haw. R. Crim. P. 29(a) requires the trial court judge either upon a motion of a defendant or of its own motion to enter a judgment of acquittal if at the end of the prosecution's case there is not sufficient evidence to support a prima facie case. The test that must be applied whenever a trial judge is compelled to determine whether the prosecution has presented sufficient evidence to withstand a motion for acquittal is that a trial judge, in passing upon a motion for directed verdict of acquittal, must determine whether upon the evidence, giving full play to the right of the jury to determine credibility, weigh the evidence, and draw justifiable inferences of fact, a reasonable mind might fairly conclude guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Facts:

Defendants Richard Barry Rocker and Joseph Cava were ticketed for nude sunbathing at the far end of a beach that was frequented primarily by fisherman. The only people that saw Rocker and Cava sunbathing were the police. Rocker and Cava argued that there was no circumstantial evidence in the record from which a trier of fact could conclude that the element of intent had been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. They also argued that their right to privacy under Haw. Const. art. I, §§ 2,4, and 5 (1968) was violated.

Issue:

Did Rocker and Cava create a common nuisance in violation of Haw. Rev. Stat. § 727-1, by openly sunbathing in the nude on a beach?

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

The court held that the evidence established that Rocker and Cava intended to create a common nuisance. The court observed that intent, for purposes of a conviction under § 727-1, was established by some action that defendant either (1) draws attention to his exposed condition, or (2) by a display in a place so public that it must be presumed it was intended to be seen by others. The court found that although the beach was somewhat isolated and used primarily by fishermen, it was a public beach, where defendants' actions could be seen by the casual observer.

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