Gov. Linda Lingle today appointed Mark Recktenwald to a 10-year term as the next chief justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court.
The appointment is subject to Senate approval.
Recktenwald, 54, would be the state’s fifth chief justice and replace Chief Justice Ronald Moon, who must leave by Sept. 4 when he turns 70 because of the state mandatory retirement law for justices and judges.
Recktenwald is an associate justice on the Hawaii Supreme Court.
“I am honored to appoint Associate Justice Recktenwald to be Hawaii’s next Supreme Court Chief Justice,” Lingle said. “Justice Recktenwald is highly regarded in the legal community and I have confidence that he will guide our courts in ensuring the rule of law is upheld andthe tenants of our Constitution are protected.”
Lingle initially appointed Judge Katherine Leonard of the Intermediate Court of Appeals, but State Senate rejected the appointment by a 14-8 vote on Aug. 6. Under the Hawaii Constitution, Lingle had 10 days or until Monday to make another selection from the remaining five candidates submitted to her by the Judicial Selection Commission.
Leonard’s appointment ran into problems when the Hawaii State Bar Association board of directors found her “unqualified” to lead Hawaii’s third branch of government. The Senate Judiciary Committee later sent the appointment to the full Senate with a 4-1 vote recommending against approval.
The chief justice is one of five members on the Hawaii Supreme Court, and also heads the Judiciary branch and its 1,800 employees.
Recktenwald joined the Supreme Court last May when Governor Lingle appointed him to replace retired Associate Justice Steven Levinson. He previously served for two years as chief judge of the Intermediate Court of Appeals.
In both of his prior confirmation proceedings, Recktenwald was unanimously confirmed by the state Senate.
Prior to his appointment to the Intermediate Court of Appeals, Recktenwald served as the director of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.
Recktenwald is a former assistant United States Attorney and was a partner with the law firm of Marr Jones and Wang. He also worked as a law clerk to Chief U.S. District Judge Harold Fong and worked as a reporter in the United Press International’s Honolulu Bureau.
He is a graduate of Harvard University and the University of Chicago Law School.
Governor Lingle selected Recktenwald from a list of five remaining candidates that were submitted to her by the Judicial Selection Commission on June 22.
According to the Hawai’i State Constitution, the State Senate has 30 days to confirm or reject the nomination. If the Senate fails to take action within 30 days, it shall be deemed to have given its consent to the Governor’s appointment.
During her term in office, Governor Lingle has named two of five justices to the Hawai’i Supreme Court, five of six judges to the Intermediate Court of Appeals, and 17 of 33 judges to the Circuit Court.