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Travel ban judge is only Native Hawaiian on federal bench

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U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson in Honolulu.

The judge who halted President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban is the only Native Hawaiian serving on the federal bench.

Nominated by former President Barack Obama in 2012, U.S. District Judge Derrick Kahala Watson is the fourth Native Hawaiian federal judge in U.S. history.

He’s a graduate of Kamehameha Schools, which gives admission preference to Native Hawaiians. Honolulu lawyers refer to him as a “double Harvard,” for where he received his undergraduate and law school education.

Prior to becoming a judge, he was chief of the civil division in the Hawaii U.S. Attorney’s office. Before that he was partner at a San Francisco firm.

Attorney Keith Lee worked with the judge on a settlement when Watson was an assistant U.S. attorney. Lee calls Watson fair, intelligent and fearless.

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