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Governor must disclose judicial candidate list, judge rules

By Ken Kobayashi

LAST UPDATED: 02:03 p.m. HST, Nov 14, 2011

A state judge ruled today that Gov. Neil Abercrombie must disclose the names on the lists of candidates that he uses to make his judicial appointments.

Circuit Judge Karl Sakamoto granted the request by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser for a judgment directing the governor to release the names under the state open records law.

State lawyers had argued that the governor does not have to release the names because of exemptions to the law.

One exemption was that the disclosure would hamper the appointment process because lawyers would be deterred from applying for judgeships if the names are disclosed.

But Sakamoto said the state did not produce any evidence supporting that point.

“The court believes (the governor) has not shown the exceptions apply in this case,” Sakamoto said. 

"The public is entitled to information of this sort and we are pleased that Judge Sakamoto has agreed," said Frank Bridgewater, vice president/editor of the Star-Advertiser. "The more informed the public is, and the more open government is, the better."

Deputy Attorney General Charleen Aina said she can’t say whether the state will appeal until she consults with Attorney General David Louie.
Louie issued a statement saying: "Obviously, we are disappointed with Circuit Court's oral ruling today. Once we receive the court's written order and have the opportunity to thoroughly review it and consider other relevant factors, we will decide how to respond."
Of Sakamoto’s ruling, Aina said, “He definitely gave great thought to it.
“It was very detailed, and while it’s not what we believed the conclusion should have been, it’s clear he looked at all of the exceptions the governor relied upon to withhold the list (of names).” 

Diane Hastert, the Star-Advertiser’s lawyer, said, “We are extremely pleased.”

“Judge Sakamoto thoroughly analyzed all of the complex issues in the case and concluded the public has the right to know the names of individuals on the Judicial Selection Commission lists,” she said.

Abercrombie refused to release the names given to him by the Judicial Selection Commission when he made his first judicial appointment in selecting Sabrina McKenna in January to the Hawaii Supreme Court.

He has since named two judges to the circuit court and also has not released the names of the commission’s candidates for those positions.

Abercrombie’s refusal is contrary to the practices of his predecessors Ben Cayetano and Linda Lingle and former Chief Justice Ronald Moon and current Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, who all disclose the names on the commission lists that they used to make their judicial appointments.

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EastsideHomies wrote:
Now he's got to fabricate a list.
on November 14,2011 | 11:01AM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
It will not work, because those who were nominated would know if they were vetted or not, and if Neil would select a name to fabricate, and Mr./Ms. Joseph/Josephine Kamehameha found out the that Neil is only USING him/her as a list to COVER HIMSELF WITH A THICK LAYER OF BEARSKIN, I think we have AMPLE GROUNDS FOR IMPEACHMENT.
on November 14,2011 | 03:52PM
LRC wrote:
And this from the Governor who said his 30% lowest job approval rating in the Nation was caused by "lack of communication." Yeah right Governor...wake up...your poor approval rating is because what you're doing to our state...especially to our Teachers and State Employees!!
on November 14,2011 | 11:15AM
Fred01 wrote:
Hey, what about all the harm the Teachers and the over-entitled State Employees are doing to our State? So bass ackwards.
on November 14,2011 | 01:57PM
kispest wrote:
Time to impeach him!
on November 14,2011 | 11:28AM
BRock wrote:
Impeach? For what?
on November 14,2011 | 01:45PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
FOR LAH YING. In other words, for FABRICATING THE TRUTH. Please see my post above, LOL, I remember you Mister Obama bin Barack.
on November 14,2011 | 03:54PM
BRock wrote:
Impeach? For what?
on November 14,2011 | 01:45PM
Buido wrote:
Neil ... You are not in congress anymore !!! ... come out of wonderland Alice ...
on November 14,2011 | 11:38AM
Ripoff wrote:
this guy hasn't done $h*t for the State yet
on November 14,2011 | 11:51AM
Fred01 wrote:
Neither have you.
on November 14,2011 | 01:58PM
Fred01 wrote:
Neither have you.
on November 14,2011 | 01:58PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
And you.
on November 14,2011 | 04:22PM
aiea7 wrote:
I believe the issue should be whether there is a law rquiring the governor to diclosle the list, not whether there are exemptions. It there is no clear mandate that the governmor must disclose the names, then it within the discretionarly powers of the governor, despite that fact that there are no exemptions directly on point. The prior governors, etc. who made disclosure did so voluntarily but that does not set precedent for others to do the same. Believe the state should appeal the ruling based on this issue - no clear mandate in the law requiring the governor to dislcose the names.
on November 14,2011 | 12:01PM
akuman808 wrote:
"I'm your governor, I'm not your friend". Wrong, you are not my governor and you are not my friend. You're the democrats governor and you need to enroll in anger management classes. BTW, President Obama had a hard time having to say hi to you as he got off Air Force One. A quitter from Congress and with the distinction of having the lowest approval rating of any governor. Not good company nowdays.
on November 14,2011 | 12:06PM
KekoaBradshaw wrote:
"You are not my governor..." and "you're the democrats governor". Hmmmm, do you know how a democracy works, akuman808? I'm a Democrat and I didn't viote for Linda Lingle in 2006 but she was still "my governor" because a majority of the voetrs in this state voted for her and " the majority rules".
on November 14,2011 | 01:10PM
Bdpapa wrote:
He doesnʻt care about this decision. As far as he is concerned, it took court action for him to do what heʻs supposed to do. Heʻll continue this practice and let the courts tell him he has to abide by the rules. When it comes to rule breaking heʻd rather ask for forgiveness than beg for permission, but I donʻt think he would really do either.
on November 14,2011 | 12:09PM
culi wrote:
When was the last time Hawaii had one term Governor? He has to go!
on November 14,2011 | 01:08PM
FLIPTOP2 wrote:
Those who voted for the dude get what they asked for - no one else to blame but this whole freakin' Democratic mafia state!
on November 14,2011 | 01:28PM
Naloboy wrote:
PLEASE Mr. Governor. Stop spending our money to defend your poor judgment. You knew that withholding the names was a shibai but you did it anyway. Thankfully the Star Advertiser took you to court and now the judge has ruled that YOU have no right to withold the names and the WE have every right to see them. To appeal this decision would add insult to injury. No....you've already insulted us plenty. Instead it would add injury to injury. You already have spent thousands on State lawyers to try to win your case in court. Well...you lost. Case closed. Accept the decision with dignity and DO NOT spend one more penny on this ridiculous issue.
on November 14,2011 | 01:59PM
DowntownGreen wrote:
Well said Naloboy.
on November 14,2011 | 02:33PM
lee1957 wrote:
He's making a list, Checking it twice, Going to find out who's naughty or nice, Abercrombie's coming, to town.
on November 14,2011 | 02:42PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
You notice you never hear of Neil at any decisive moments. About the only one was the Japan Tsunami this spring and that is not fair because lot of people were watching TV anyway.. On the other hand I am not glued to any of KGMB KHNL KITV and/ior KHON for their newscast LOL.
on November 14,2011 | 04:25PM
Kawipoo wrote:
If you notice his picture he has flattened a little more since the APEC leaders were using his head as a place to sit their drinks. his head was at a perfect height to be a table and kiss a@@ at the same time.
on November 14,2011 | 03:00PM
omd111 wrote:
LOL! Too funny, too cruel, but too true.
on November 14,2011 | 03:09PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
I could use your powerful words, however I am a family man. LOL. Well family men still use your words, however as they say PLEASE DRINK RESPONSIBLY. lol.
on November 14,2011 | 03:49PM
DonGa-me wrote:
Governor Abercrombie wants to make decisions and not let it be up to the public by them voting. lingle did not make decisions she alone in her office could not make without the public voting on it.
on November 14,2011 | 03:07PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Wonder how Neil boy would look like complete shaven, beard and head. Just tinkering around, LOL. I do not think he would be smiling anymore. LOL.
on November 14,2011 | 03:47PM
Kalli wrote:
Time for the peoples friend to make an appeal to a higher power. After all he just appointed a supreme court justice maybe she can bend the law for her pal. Neil won't go away quietly.
on November 14,2011 | 05:59PM
MalamaKaAina wrote:
Mahalo Star Advertiser for exposing this clown to the light of day.
on November 14,2011 | 06:12PM
LanaUlulani wrote:
Dictator Abercrombie. CAUGHT.
on November 14,2011 | 07:51PM
Anonymous wrote:
In this small town, in this small a legal community, where I'm sure references are verified, does Neil really think that the names of the judicial applicants remain hidden from the other partners in a law firm? That's just naive.
on November 14,2011 | 10:13PM
palani wrote:

Governor Abercrombie has asked that Judge Sakamoto and all other judicial appointees who oppose him resign their posts immediately, in keeping with his "New Day" in Hawaii pogrom.

on November 15,2011 | 05:52AM
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