Deputy Public Defender Nakasone Nominated to the Circuit Court

article top
Deputy Public Defender Karen Tooko Nakasone

HONOLULU, HAWAII – Governor Neil Abercrombie today announced Deputy Public Defender Karen Tooko Nakasone as his nomination to the judicial seat on the First Circuit Court.

“Karen Nakasone reflects a broad and deep understanding of Hawai’i, its rich heritage and recognition of the role the judiciary plays in contemporary society,” said Governor Abercrombie.  “She provides a fresh quality and judicial temperament which will serve well as a judge of the First Circuit.”


Ms. Nakasone, 41, has been a Deputy Public Defender in Honolulu since 1996.  She has a record of achievement and excellence as both a trial and appellate lawyer in criminal defense.  Prior to serving in the Office of the Public Defender, Ms. Nakasone served as a law clerk to the Honorable Simeon Acoba, Jr. in the Intermediate Court of Appeals.  She earned her law degree from Boston University School of Law, and holds a B.A. in Political Science from Bryn Mawr College.  Ms. Nakasone also studied at the University of Ryukyus in Okinawa, Japan, and the University of Hawai’i at Manoa.   She is a graduate of Hawai’i Baptist Academy.

Admitted to practice law in 1995, Ms. Nakasone is an arbitrator with the Court Annexed Arbitration Program, and serves on the boards of Hawaii Women Lawyers, the Board of Bar Examiners and the Hawai’i Chapter of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA). She was recognized by the national NAPABA as one of its 2009 Best Lawyers Under 40, and was a 2008 Pacific Century Fellow. Ms. Nakasone also served as Past President of the Japanese American Citizens League, Honolulu Chapter.

“I believe that being able to serve the broader community one belongs to, is not only an obligation, but is a privilege to be embraced,” said Ms. Nakasone.  “I am truly grateful and extremely humbled by this opportunity to serve on the First Circuit Court bench.”

This nomination fills the vacancy created last year with the appointment of Justice Sabrina McKenna to the Supreme Court.
The governor is the appointing authority to nominate judges of the Circuit Court for an initial ten-year term.  The governor selects appointees from a list of not less than four and not more than six names submitted by the Judicial Selection commission.  All nominations are subject to confirmation by the state senate.


Submitted by Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s administration





  1. A public defender? Please, enough already. This society needs prosecutors on the bench, people who will take the career criminals off the street and protect the public instead of giving chance after chance to people who refuse to learn.

Comments are closed.