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Governor makes names of court nominees public

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 4:22 p.m. HST, Nov 26, 2011

Following a court order prompted by a Honolulu Star-Advertiser lawsuit, Gov. Neil Abercrombie released the names of nominees to the Hawaii Supreme Court and two Circuit Court judgeships.

Attorney General David Louie said the governor still disagrees with the court decision.

However, the Judicial Selection Commission, which screens and forwards the names of judicial nominees to the governor, decided last week to release the list of candidates when it submits the list to the governor.

"In light of the changed circumstances with the Commission's actions, judicial applicants will no longer have any expectation of confidentiality," Louie said.

The commission's new policy followed Circuit Judge Karl Sakamoto's  Nov. 14 ruling in a Freedom of Information lawsuit filed by the Star-Advertiser. Sakamoto ordered Abercrombie to release the lists of names.

Louie said last week that the governor was still considering whether to appeal Sakamoto's ruling.

The previous two governors, Ben Cayetano and Linda Lingle, routinely released commission's lists for more than 45 judicial appointments.

But Abercrombie refused to do so when he appointed Sabrina McKenna to the Hawaii Supreme Court and two judges -- Karen T. Nakasone and Rhonda I.L. Loo  to the Circuit Court this year.

He said the disclosure would have a "chilling effect," discouraging lawyers from applying because their names might be made public.

Sakamoto ruled that Abercrombie's rationale was "speculation" because the state's lawyers didn't present any evidence to support that point.

Under the state constitution, the governor must appoint each state, appeals and circuit court jurist from lists of four to six candidates from the commission.

The chief justice appoints district judges from the commission's lists of at least six names. The court makes the lists public and solicits comments on the candidates.

The appointments are subject to Senate confirmation.

The lists released today are below:

Associate Justice, Hawaii Supreme Court

Derrick H.M. Chan

Daniel R. Foley

Sabrina McKenna

Craig H. Nakamura

Richard W. Pollack



Judge, First Circuit Court

Leslie A. Hayashi

Shirley M. Kawamura

Lono J. Lee

Karen T. Nakasone

Bode A. Uale


Judge, Second Circuit Court

Mimi DesJardins

David M. Jorgensen

Kelsey T. Kawano

Rhonda I.L. Loo

Douglas J. Sameshima

Joseph L. Wildman


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