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State / In Brief

May 21, 2012
The Associated Press

Conviction overturned in death of visitor from N.C.

HONOLULU - The Hawaii Supreme Court has overturned the manslaughter conviction for a man accused of killing a North Carolina visitor with a single punch.

Less Schnabel Jr. was sentenced to 20 years in prison in the 2007 death of Christopher Reuther, who was visiting the University of Hawaii law school. He died four days after he was knocked unconscious at a Nanakuli beach park.

The majority opinion of the 3-2 ruling says the prosecutor's remarks during closing arguments violated Schnabel's rights. The prosecutor told the jury to not get caught in the "mumbo jumbo" of the judge's instructions and urged jurors to rely on their gut feeling.

Reuther grew up in Asheville, N.C. He had been in Hawaii a few hours when he was struck unconscious.


ACLU suing Hawaii over denied unions for inmates

HONOLULU - The American Civil Liberties Union is suing state corrections officials, alleging they unlawfully discriminated against inmates in deciding who has the right to marry.

The ACLU filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court recently on behalf of four women who submitted multiple marriage applications and weren't allowed to marry their fiances.

Their fiances are all men incarcerated at Saguaro Correctional Facility, a privately run prison in Arizona housing Hawaii inmates under a contract with the state.

The lawsuit argues that the defendants can't impose their personal moral views in deciding whether to grant marriage applications.

State Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Toni Schwartz says the department hasn't yet been served court documents for the case and is unable to comment.


State high court upholds Kauai camper's conviction

LIHUE - The Hawaii Supreme Court has upheld the conviction of a Kauai man who argued he couldn't be convicted of illegal camping because it's a constitutionally protected Native Hawaiian practice.

Lloyd Pratt was found guilty of three illegal camping violations in 2006 and appealed his convictions to the Intermediate Court of Appeals, where they were upheld.

The Supreme Court's opinion issued last week clarifies the law as requiring a balancing of an individual's interest in using the land freely versus the state's interest in regulating the use of public resources.

Kauai County Prosecuting Attorney Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho says Native Hawaiian practices have to comply with the laws that are in place to protect the health, safety and welfare of all citizens.



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