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Hawaii Bar explains poor ranking for Wilson

    State Supreme Court judicial nominee Michael Wilson listened as the Hawaii Bar Association's Gregory Markham testified this morning to the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor about Wilson's qualifications.

The Hawaii State Bar Association rated Circuit Judge Michael Wilson “unqualified” for the state Supreme Court because of “work ethic concerns, lack of professionalism in the workplace, questions concerning the propriety of conduct toward women in professional contexts, and the ability to serve at the level of a Supreme Court justice.”

Gregory Markham, the president-elect of the bar association, disclosed the reasons for the negative rating for Wilson in a letter Wednesday to the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee.

Markham had previously declined to discuss the reasons for the rating, citing the confidentiality of the process. But Sen. Clayton Hee, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee, pointed the bar association to a Jan. 18, 2011 article in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that outlined changes to the bar association’s process.

The bar association conducted further research, according to Patricia Mau-Shimizu, its executive director, and determined that the association did have the flexibility to release the additional information.

The Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee voted unanimously last week to recommend Wilson’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, specifically rejecting the bar association’s rating. The full Senate is expected to vote later this month.

Hee said on Wednesday that the new information from the bar association does not change his view on Wilson.

“In my opinion, it’s an indictment absent of facts,” Hee said. “And it’s a really sad commentary on lawyers. It really is.”

Wilson could not immediately be reached for comment.

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