Question: If I am interested in attending a criminal trial for a case that appears in the news, is there a website available to determine when a hearing or trial will be held?
Answer: If you’re interested in criminal cases in Circuit Court and Family Court, or civil cases in Circuit, Family and District courts, trial dates and other case information are posted on the state Judiciary’s website. Go to www.courts.state.hi.us and click on Ho’ohiki on the left side.
"District Court criminal cases, which are misdemeanor cases, do not appear on Ho’ohiki nor is the case information available online elsewhere," Judiciary spokeswoman Marsha Kitagawa said.
The reason: "The District Court criminal case management database system is very antiquated," she said.
But the Judiciary has been expanding its online programs.
Earlier this year, it began using social media — Twitter and Facebook — to inform people about legislative bills that could affect the court system, appellate opinions, judicial selections, furlough dates and the like.
On its website, the Judiciary also is touting eCourt Kokua, which allows online users to access information from its case management database, called the Judiciary Information Management System.
Currently, the database offers traffic case information dating to 1994.
"If all goes well, the appellate database system should be integrated into JIMS and accessible via eCourt Kokua by the end of August," Kitagawa said. "Work on incorporating criminal cases will hopefully start in December 2010, with District Court misdemeanor cases first, then felony cases next."
The original plan called for the Judiciary’s "14 diverse and antiquated database systems" to be fully unified into a single statewide integrated system by 2012, she said.
However, because of "Furlough Fridays," the completion date may change.
Question: I am curious about the law regarding the use of cell phones or other electronic devices while driving in parking lots and structures. I often see a lot of people talking on their cell phones while trying to find parking at Ward Centre and Ala Moana Center lots. Is it legal to do so and are police unable to issue citations on private property?
Answer: Honolulu’s law does not apply to private property, said a spokeswoman for the Honolulu Police Department.
So, yes, police would not issue a citation to someone using a cell phone while driving on a shopping mall lot.
Question: Do you know the address for the former Waipahu Plantation Hospital?
Answer: We don’t have an exact address, but can tell you that the old hospital, part of Oahu Sugar Co.’s plantation, was on Waipahu Street, makai of the current Filipino Community Center.
That information comes from Mike Mauricio, former researcher for the Friends of Waipahu Cultural Garden Park, now known as Hawaii’s Plantation Village.
A service station is now in the area, he said.
You can find information about Hawaii’s sugar plantations, from 1850 to 1991, at the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Hawaiian Sugar Planters’ Association Plantation Archives (www2.hawaii.edu/~speccoll/hawaiihspa.html).
Plantation records were donated to the university by the association (now known as the Hawaii Agriculture Research Center) in 1995.
Write to "Kokua Line" at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or e-mail email@example.com.