Attorney wins motion, withdraws from case

WAILUKU – When a Wailuku man is resentenced next week on drug charges, it will be without the lawyer who successfully argued before the state Supreme Court for the defendant’s right to be represented by an attorney of his choice.

Attorney Hayden Aluli was allowed to withdraw from the case Thursday after he said he had completed the work he was paid for in representing Stephen Cramer Jr.

“I’ll grant your motion, but I don’t expect you to show up here asking for another continuance because now you got your money,” 2nd Circuit Judge Peter Cahill told Aluli.

It was a judge’s denial of Aluli’s request for a three-week delay so he could represent Cramer at his original sentencing on Jan. 6, 2011, that eventually led to a review of his case by the Hawaii Supreme Court.

Cramer’s sentencing ended up being delayed for five days. The public defender’s office represented Cramer when he was sentenced to a 10-year prison term after being found guilty of second-degree promotion of a dangerous drug, possessing drug paraphernalia and third-degree promotion of a detrimental drug.

The charges followed Cramer’s arrest Sept. 19, 2007, when police found crystal methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia and marijuana while executing search warrants for him, his car and his apartment. He was admitted into the Maui Drug Court program of treatment and supervision but was terminated from participation in September 2010 and later convicted of the drug charges.

After Cramer appealed his sentence, the state Intermediate Court of Appeals ruled that there was no violation of Cramer’s constitutional right to be represented by an attorney of his choice.

Cramer then asked the Supreme Court to review the appeals court order.

Convening on Maui for the first time since the mid-1800s, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case Dec. 6 in the Baldwin High School auditorium. Aluli, who was hired to represent Cramer, said that the judge didn’t have good reason to deny Cramer’s request.

In an opinion for publication issued April 29, the Supreme Court said that the Circuit Court had “abused its discretion” by denying Cramer’s request for the delay and to have another attorney represent him.

The Supreme Court vacated Cramer’s sentence and sent the case back for resentencing.

Cramer, 27, can argue to be placed on probation as a first-time drug offender, according to the court.

In court Thursday, Deputy Prosecutor Tracy Jones said Aluli told the court that he had been retained to represent Cramer at his original sentencing.

“The whole thrust of the appeal was that Mr. Cramer was denied representation by the attorney of his choice, which was Mr. Aluli,” Jones said. “Here we are at the same stage after appeal and he’s saying he didn’t get paid to do it.”

Aluli said that after the delay for the original sentencing wasn’t granted, Cramer’s family later retained Aluli to provide appellate services after the sentencing.

Cahill appointed the public defender’s office to represent Cramer at his resentencing June 6.

Deputy Public Defender Wendy Hudson said Cramer has been furloughed and has a job.

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at