HONOLULU Protesters who peacefully demonstrate at shopping centers in Hawaii can be prosecuted for trespassing if they don't leave when asked, according to a ruling by the Hawaii Supreme Court.
The high court ruled Aug. 11 in the case of Frances Viglielmo who was arrested in December 2000 at Ala Moana Center in Honolulu while holding a sign and handing out pamphlets protesting the sale of military toys.
Viglielmo was convicted of second-degree criminal trespass, a petty misdemeanor. She was given six months' probation and fined $100.
Her attorney argued the shopping center's common areas, such as the sidewalks, should be considered public space where free speech is protected.
The court disagreed, citing similar rulings by the Minnesota Supreme Court over protests at the Mall of America.
In a 32-page opinion in Hawaii v. Viglielmo, Associate Justice Steven Levinson wrote that Viglielmo's conviction does not violate the U.S. Constitution as interpreted by federal courts.
In addition, the state high court was not expanding free-speech rights under the Hawaii Constitution to cover Viglielmo's conduct, he wrote.
Chief Justice Ronald Moon and Associate Justices Paula Nakayama and James Duffy agreed with Levinson.
Associate Justice Simeon Acoba cast the dissenting vote, saying he believes the state constitution's free-speech provision protects Viglielmo's rights to hand out leaflets and hold signs at community shopping centers, even though they are privately owned.