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Senate committee approves Watson appointment to U.S. District Court

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 9:26 a.m. HST, Feb 14, 2013

The Senate Judiciary Committee today approved the nomination of Derrick Kahala Watson as a U.S. District Court judge in Hawaii.

Watson’s nomination as Hawaii's fourth full-time U.S. district judge now goes before the full Senate for final confirmation.

In voting to advance President Barack Obama’s nomination, Sen. Mazie Hirono said: “My interactions with Derrick Watson have shown me that he is an intelligent, thoughtful man who will take his role on the federal bench seriously. During his confirmation hearing and our private meeting, Mr. Watson demonstrated that he is highly qualified. If confirmed, he will bring needed diversity to the federal bench as the sole Native Hawaiian currently serving and only the fourth in U.S. history. As a member of the Judiciary Committee, I know he will serve our nation with distinction.”

Watson, an assistant U.S. attorney in Hawaii since 2007, was nominated by President Barack Obama to the lifetime judge position last year and renominated by the president last month for the new Senate.

His nomination did not raise any opposition among Senate Judiciary committee members during a Jan. 23 hearing.

Watson, a graduate of Kamehameha Schools who has spent most of his legal career on the mainland, would be the first part-Hawaiian federal judge since U.S. District Judge Samuel King, who died in 2010.

Watson, a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, worked for a San Francisco law firm from 1991 to 1995, the U.S. attorney's office in the Northern District of California from 1995 to 2000 and another San Francisco law firm from 2000 to 2007.

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