The Hawaii Judicial Selection Commission, as promised, is becoming more transparent.

The agency charged with presenting a list of six potential judicial candidates to both the Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice and the governor had previously kept the candidate list secret and relied on the chief justice and governor to release the names to the public and media for comment.

But that policy changed after the commissioners announced November 16 that they would to begin to release the names to the public themselves.

The issue arose because while Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald has continued the policy of releasing the names of candidates before filing the vacancy, Gov. Neil Abercrombie, since he took office in 2010, has kept the list secret.

In its first public announcement issued Wednesday, November 23, the Judicial Selection Commission made public the list of District Court Judge of the Second Circuit nominees to fill the vacancy left when former District Court Judge Rhonda Lai Loo was promoted to the position of Circuit Court Judge of the Second Circuit. The Second Circuit includes the islands of Maui, Molokai and Lanai.

The list of nominees include:

  • Mimi DesJardins
  • Michelle L. Drewyer
  • Adrianne H. Heely
  • Adriel S.C. Menor
  • Richard A. Priest, Jr.
  • Douglas J. Sameshima

Chief Justice Recktenwald is required to select his appointment within 30 days; comments can be send to him at the Supreme Court of Hawaii, 417 S. King Street, Honolulu, HI  96813, Fax:  808-539-4703, Email: chiefjustice@courts.hawaii.gov – Written comments must be post-marked, emailed, faxed, or hand delivered no later than Tuesday, December 6, 2011.  The Senate must confirm the nominee.

Meanwhile, Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Attorney General David Louie have not given up the fight oversecrecy in judicial nominations, despite the Judicial Selection Commission’s decision this week that the names of nominees will be opened to the public.

In a news release issued Friday, Louie’s office said it still may appeal a court ruling issued Monday that held the governor cannot withhold from the public the names of candidates he has considered for judicial appointments.

As Jim Dooley earlier reported, the ruling, from Circuit Judge Karl Sakamoto, came after the Honolulu Star Advertiser sued Abercrombie for refusing to disclose lists of nominees supplied to him by the Judicial Selection Commission as potential appointees to the Circuit or Appellate courts.

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