Motions for Reconsideration in Hawaii

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During many lawsuits, a plaintiff or defendant will file a motion with the court.  A motion is simply a formal request to the presiding judge, made by either party, requesting that the judge rule on some question of the case.  If the judge rules against a party on a motion, that party may, in certain circumstances, file a Motion for Reconsideration.  A Motion for Reconsideration asks the judge to reconsider his or her decision in the prior motion.  The grounds for a Motion for Reconsideration are generally found in the Hawaii Rules of Civil Procedure Rules 59 and 60.  They state as follows:

Rule 59. New Trials; Amendment of Judgments

(a) Grounds.  A new trial may be granted to all or any of the parties and on all or part of the issues (1) in an action in which there has been a trial by jury, for any of the reasons for which new trials have heretofore been granted in actions at law in the courts of the State; and (2) in an action tried without a jury, for any of the reasons for which rehearings have heretofore been granted in suits in equity in the courts of the State. On a motion for a new trial in an action tried without a jury, the court may open the judgment if one has been entered, take additional testimony, amend findings of fact and conclusions of law or make new findings and conclusions, and direct the entry of a new judgment.

(b) Time for Motion.  A motion for a new trial shall be filed no later than 10 days after entry of the judgment.

(c) Time for Serving Affidavits.  When a motion for new trial is based on affidavits, they shall be filed with the motion. The opposing party has 10 days after service to file opposing affidavits, but that period may be extended for up to 20 days, either by the court for good cause or by the parties’ written stipulation. The court may permit reply affidavits.

(d) On Court’s Initiative; Notice; Specifying Grounds.  No later than 10 days after entry of judgment the court, on its own, may order a new trial for any reason that would justify granting one on a party’s motion. After giving the parties notice and an opportunity to be heard , the court may grant a timely motion for a new trial, for a reason not stated in the motion. When granting a new trial on its own initiative or for a reason not stated in a motion, the court shall specify the grounds in its order.

(e) Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment.  Any motion to alter or amend a judgment shall be filed no later than 10 days after entry of the judgment.

 Hawaii Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 59.

Rule 60. Relief From Judgment or Order

(a) Clerical Mistakes.  Clerical mistakes in judgments, orders or other parts of the record and errors therein arising from oversight or omission may be corrected by the court at any time of its own initiative or on the motion of any party and after such notice, if any, as the court orders. During the pendency of an appeal, such mistakes may be so corrected before the appeal is docketed, and thereafter while the appeal is pending may be so corrected with leave of the appellate court.

(b) Mistakes; Inadvertence; Excusable Neglect; Newly Discovered Evidence; Fraud, etc.  On motion and upon such terms as are just, the court may relieve a party or a party’s legal representative from a final judgment, order, or proceeding for the following reasons: (1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect; (2) newly discovered evidence which by due diligence could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial under Rule 59(b); (3) fraud (whether heretofore denominated intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or other misconduct of an adverse party; (4) the judgment is void; (5) the judgment has been satisfied, released, or discharged, or a prior judgment upon which it is based has been reversed or otherwise vacated, or it is no longer equitable that the judgment should have prospective application; or (6) any other reason justifying relief from the operation of the judgment. The motion shall be made within a reasonable time, and for reasons (1), (2), and (3) not more than one year after the judgment, order, or proceeding was entered or taken. A motion under this subdivision (b) does not affect the finality of a judgment or suspend its operation. This rule does not limit the power of a court to entertain an independent action to relieve a party from a judgment, order, or proceeding, or to set aside a judgment for fraud upon the court. Writs of coram nobis, coram vobis, audita querela, and bills of review and bills in the nature of a bill of review, are abolished, and the procedure for obtaining any relief from a judgment shall be by motion as prescribed in these rules or by an independent action.

Hawaii Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 60.

The Hawaii Supreme Court has stressed that a Motion for Reconsideration is not to be used to reargue the motion. 

“The purpose of a motion for reconsideration is to allow parties to present new evidence and/or arguments that could not have been presented during the earlier adjudicated motion.” 

AMFAC, Inc. v. Waikiki Beachcomber Inv. Co., 74 Haw. 85, 114, (1992) (citations omitted) (in affirming circuit court’s denial of Amfac’s motion for reconsideration, holding that Amfac’s only “new” argument advanced in support of its motion for reconsideration could and should have been made in support of its underlying motion for summary judgment).

Moreover, the Hawaii Supreme Court has also expressed its concern for the abuse of the Motion for Reconsideration, stating, in Gossinger v. Ass’n of Apt. Owners, 73 Haw. 412 (1992), the following:

Although motions for rehearing ought not to be discountenanced, there has been a growing tendency here to treat them as an ordinary step in the course of a case; and this tendency, I think, should be discouraged.  Too often we see motions to rehear of a purely repetitious nature.  Again we find them predicated upon factual or legal ground that could or should have been presented at the original hearing.  In both instances they necessarily result in delay and wasted effort by court and counsel.

Gossinger at 425-427.

Thus, the party seeking a Motion for Reconsideration must be prepared to show that the evidence presented or arguments made in support of the motion for reconsideration could not or should not have been made in the earlier proceeding.  Only then will the Court reconsider its ruling on the previous motion.  This underscores the importance of a party having sufficient evidence and raising all arguments before making any motion.