First Circuit Court judge Todd Eddins, a former state Public Defender who famously successfully defended then-sitting Hawaii island Mayor Billy Kenoi of corruption charges as an attorney in private practice in 2016, was nominated to be Hawaii’s next associate Supreme Court justice by Gov. David Ige today.
Eddins’ nomination faces Senate approval.
Ige said today that some Supreme Court nominations have been controversial, but “I am confident this one won’t be.”
At a press conference attended by Eddins, Ige concluded by saying “I really look forward to the Senate confirmation process.”
If confirmed, Eddins will serve as one of four associate justices, in addition to Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald. Eddins would replace associate Justice Richard Pollack, who retired in July.
Eddins has served on the bench since 2017. He thanked his parents, wife Rowena, their four children, friends and colleagues and called his nomination to the state’s highest bench “an incredibly humbling capstone” to his legal career.
Asked about his judicial philosophy, Eddins said, “I have an allegiance to the rule of law.”
Ige said Eddins’ legal background gives him “a breath of experience,” while calling Eddins “just a regular guy.”
Eddins attended Enchanted Lake Elementary School in Kailua; later graduated from Hawaii Baptist Academy; and then the College of William & Mary in Virginia before returning for law school at the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaii, where he served as the executive editor of the UH Law Review. He later clerked for the late Hawaii Supreme Court Justice Yoshimi Hayashi.
Eddins also served on the Moiliili-McCully neighborhood board and coached troubled youth in both sports and during mock trials at the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility in Kailua, Ige said.
Eddins was one of four names presented to Ige from the Judicial Selection Commission, a process that included the opportunity for anonymous comments to Ige.
“Judge Eddins has the respect of his peers,” Ige said.
As a defense attorney in private practice, Eddins and fellow attorney Richard Sing in 2016 successfully defended Kenoi in Hilo. Kenoi faced eight counts related to 15 transactions that Kenoi charged to his county-issued pCard, or purchasing card, from 2011 to 2014.
In all, Kenoi charged a total of about $129,000 on his pCard, including alcohol purchases. Kenoi ended up paying the county back $31,000 in unauthorized personal expenses.
Kenoi, an attorney, took the stand in his defense and faced questioning from Eddins that helped Kenoi explain his philosophy in pCard spending that may have played a key role in the jury’s acquittal.