Gov. Linda Lingle has received a list of six nominees for chief justice of the Hawaii State Supreme Court and has 30 days to make her selection.
The nominees, chosen by the state Judicial Selection Commission, are Supreme Court Associate Justice Mark Recktenwald; Craig Nakamura, chief judge of the Intermediate Court of Appeals; appellate judges Daniel Foley and Katherine Leonard; and Circuit Judges Bert Ayabe and Richard Pollack.
Lingle must appoint the state’s fifth head of the state Judiciary to fill the vacancy when Chief Justice Ronald Moon steps down by Sept. 4, when he turns 70, because of the mandatory retirement law for state judges.
Recktenwald is considered by some court observers to be the favorite to be picked by Lingle, but she will be seeking comments from the public until July 12 on all six nominees. The appointment, which would be for a 10-year term, is subject to state Senate confirmation.
Recktenwald served in Lingle’s Cabinet as director of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs before she tapped him to be chief judge of the appellate court in 2007 and then as associate justice last year. He sailed through the Senate confirmation process both times.
Senate President Colleen Hanabusa said earlier this month that Recktenwald’s chances of winning confirmation are "probably very good."
Recktenwald’s appointment would further solidify Lingle’s imprint on the state Judiciary. It would be her second appointment to the high court. During her more than 7 1/2 -year tenure, she has named five of the six Intermediate Court of Appeals judges and nearly half of the state’s circuit judges.
If Recktenwald gets the job, Lingle might also be able to name his replacement on the high court, depending how quickly the Senate confirms him and the Judicial Selection Commission sends another list to the governor to fill the vacancy. Her office said Lingle received the list from the commission a couple of hours before it announced the names.
The governor leaves office Dec. 6.
Comments on the nominees may be sent by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by fax at 586-0006.