Leonard gets key endorsement
Former Supreme Court Associate Justice Robert Klein has thrown his enthusiastic support behind his former law clerk Katherine Leonard as Gov. Linda Lingle’s nominee to be Hawai’i’s first woman chief justice.
Klein, who was appointed to the court by former Gov. John Waihee and is now in private practice, issued a statement that he “completely and without reservation” supports her nomination and that Leonard “compares very favorably with past Chief Justices who have administered our court system.”
The statement by Klein, who presumably was interviewed as part of the administration’s vetting process, should help head off attempts by attorneys led by Eric Seitz to get the Hawai’i State Bar Association to oppose the nomination when it goes before the State Senate for confirmation.
The Hawai’i Women Lawyers and Leonard’s former law partner have also jumped to her defense in advance of a hearing Tuesday by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Here is Klein’s full statement:
Judge Katherine Leonard was the first law clerk I selected to assist me when I was elevated to the Hawai’i Supreme Court in 1992. She served with great distinction. I am well aware of her legal capabilities, her intellect, her demeanor, and her aloha for Hawai’i, and I completely and without reservation support her nomination as Chief Justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court. The Judicial Selection Commission has qualified Judge Leonard for the Chief Justice’s position, and by background and experience she compares very favorably with past Chief Justices who have administered our court system. I urge my fellow attorneys and citizens to support Judge Leonard’s nomination and I hope for her prompt confirmation.
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