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Senate confirms Wilson as state Supreme Court justice

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 5:35 p.m. HST, Mar 17, 2014

The state Senate voted 23 to 1 on Monday to confirm Circuit Judge Michael Wilson as an associate justice on the state Supreme Court.

Wilson will replace Associate Justice Simeon Acoba, who has reached the mandatory retirement age of 70.

Wilson, who has served on the Circuit Court since 2000, is a former director of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and the state's consumer advocate. He was appointed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie. His term on the Supreme Court is 10 years.

"I am humbled by and grateful for the consent of the Senate," Wilson told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser after the vote. "(Senate) President (Donna Mercado) Kim and all the members of the Senate treated me with patience and kindness and fairness and due process. I'm especially grateful for the courage and the strength and the wisdom of chairman (Clayton) Hee throughout this process."

Hee, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee, recommended that Wilson be confirmed.

Hee and other senators were critical of the Hawaii State Bar Association, which rated Wilson "unqualified" for the nomination.

Several senators called for changes in the process after Wilson was subjected to negative comments about his behavior toward women and work ethic that were made by confidential sources and never publicly substantiated.

Sen. Rosalyn Baker was the only senator to vote against Wilson's confirmation. She questioned whether Wilson was the best nominee for the state's highest court and cited confidential complaints made to her by women about Wilson's conduct.

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