The Hawaii Women Lawyers will be expressing their strong support of Gov. Linda Lingle’s appointment of appeals Judge Katherine Leonard as the next chief justice, a spokeswoman for the group said yesterday.
Lane Hornfeck, chairwoman of the group’s Judicial Equity Committee, said the organization will be notifying the Hawaii State Bar Association and the Senate Judiciary Committee that Leonard is "well qualified" for the 10-year term.
The committee hearing on the appointment is scheduled for Tuesday.
Hornfeck spoke on behalf of the organization of about 400 members in the wake of Honolulu attorney Eric Seitz’s remarks this week that he opposes Leonard’s appointment, saying she lacked the administrative experience and temperament for the job.
Hornfeck said Leonard does have administrative background, citing her work as a private attorney in writing the plan terminating the Campbell Estate and transferring more than $2 billion in assets. Leonard also has been a successful litigator and has been "well regarded" as a judge on the Intermediate Court of Appeals, Hornfeck said.
Hornfeck said those who know Leonard well do not think she lacks the judicial temperament.
Karl Kobayashi, chairman of the Carlsmith Ball law firm where Leonard spent most of her legal career, issued a statement yesterday saying Leonard assisted with the management of the law firm, serving as a leader of the firm’s litigation group and a member of the firm’s partner compensation committee, which has made personnel decisions.
The state Senate has 30 days from Lingle’s appointment last week to act on the nomination, or it will be deemed approved.