The Kapolei court is called the "greatest work" of the state's longest-serving chief justice
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Aug 28, 2010
The Kapolei Judiciary Complex was officially named yesterday after Chief Justice Ronald T.Y. Moon, who leaves the bench next week after serving 17 years as head of the Judiciary and longer than any other state chief justice.
The Ronald T.Y. Moon Judiciary Complex on the Ewa Plain was called the chief justice's "greatest work" by Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, who recalled his relentless lobbying that led the state Legislature to fund the $146 million complex.
Moon, the country's first chief justice of Korean ancestry, must retire when he reaches age 70 next Saturday under the mandatory retirement constitutional provision for state justices and judges.
He will leave office Tuesday. He also served three years as an associate justice and eight years as a circuit judge.
He told the Star-Advertiser he plans to take six months off to "sort of see the lay of the land," travel, visit his children on the mainland and get to know his grandchildren. After that his possible options, he said, are going into mediation or perhaps teaching at the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson law school.
Moon was highly praised during ceremonies at the complex, which includes Waianae District Court, First Circuit Family Court and Juvenile Detention Center that opened earlier this year.
Hanabusa (D, Nanakuli-Makaha) said Moon knew how to maneuver around the "land mines" at the state Legislature in securing funding for Judiciary projects. During his term, courthouses were constructed at Kauai, Hilo, Kaneohe and Kapolei, "his finest work," she said.
She said the Kapolei project cost is actually higher than the $125 million that is generally cited because of the purchase of adjacent land that will later house related social service agencies, which was part of Moon's vision for a "complete complex."
Texas Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson, chairman of the National Center for State Courts' board of directors and president of the Conference of Chief Justices, presented Moon the Harry L. Carrico Award for judicial innovation.
He said Moon has been "a champion of justice" for his years of work as head of the conference's committee devoted to access to and fairness in the courts. The Hawaii Judiciary, he said, has been a model for other state courts with its programs for court interpreter certification, appellate mediation and HOPE probation.
U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye congratulated Moon for the complex that underscores the movement toward "equal opportunity" for Oahu residents who used to have to travel to Honolulu for medical, higher-education, banking and judicial services.
U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka said the complex never would have been built without Moon's "determination."
The state's previous longest-serving chief justice was William Richardson, who served from 1966 to 1982.
The state Senate is scheduled to vote on chief justice nominee Mark Recktenwald on Thursday. Associate Justice Paula Nakayama serves as acting chief justice until Moon's replacement is sworn in.