CJ won’t follow governor’s lead on judicial secrecy

There’s still a glimmer of sunshine in Hawai‘i’s judicial selection despite Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s effort to shut down public access to the process.

Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, who appoints District Court judges while the governor appoints judges for the Circuit Court and appeals courts, released for public comment the names of 22 nominees provided by the Judicial Selection Commission for three O’ahu District Court openings and one on Kaua’i.

Abercrombie discontinued the practice of former Govs. Linda Lingle and Ben Cayetano of making public the JDC’s nominees for the Supreme Court, Intermediate Court of Appeals and Circuit Court, claiming that publicizing the names would discourage qualified attorneys from applying.

Abercrombie ignored an opinion by the Office of Information Practices that the lists of nominees are public records and dismissed the acting OIP director who issued the opinion.

Rectenwald obviously disagrees with the governor that it will produce inferior judges if the public participates in the vetting process and has the information needed to fairly evaluate the performance of those appointing judges.

Former Chief Justice Ronald Moon also released the names of District Court candidates and invited public comment before making his appointments, which are subject to Senate confirmation.

The Supreme Court under Moon discounted Abercrombie’s rationale for keeping the names secret, opining that “no stigma would attach to any judicial nominee not eventually appointed to office inasmuch as all nominees are by definition deemed by the JSC to be qualified for appointment.”

The three O’ahu District Court openings are to replace judges Colette Y. Garibaldi and Faʻauuga L. To‘oto‘o, who were elevated to the Circuit Court, and Michael F. Broderick, who became president of the YMCA of Honolulu.

The JDC nominees released by Rectenwald are: Paula Devens; Shirley M. Kawamura; Lanson K. Kupau; Linda S. Martell; Melanie Mito May; Trish K. Morikawa; Karen T. Nakasone; Dean E. Ochiai; Maura M. Okamoto; David A. Pendleton; Catherine H. Remigio; G. Gary Singh; Renee Sonobe Hong; Kevin A. Souza; Paul B.K. Wong; Wayson W.S. Wong.

The Kaua’i vacancy occurred when Judge Calvin K. Murashige retired. The nominees are Edmund D. Acoba, Russell K.M.K. Goo, Daniel G. Hempey, Joseph N. Kobayashi, Alvin K. Nishimura and Sara L. Silverman.

Those wishing to weigh in on any of the candidates should send their comments to Recktenwald by March 18 via one of the following:

Mail: 417 S. King Street, Honolulu, HI 96813
Fax: 539-4703
Email: chiefjustice@courts.state.hi.us

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One Comment on “CJ won’t follow governor’s lead on judicial secrecy”

  1. Michael Says:

    Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald does his own justice. He makes a bad choice he will have to answer for his decision. Governor Abercrombie might just step in and Say, I told you so! Clearly it would have happened with lingle.


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