Derrick Kahala Watson Confirmed for Federal Judgeship in Hawaii

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Derrick Kahala Watson

The Senate today confirmed President Obama’s nomination of Derrick Kahala Watson, a federal prosecutor in Honolulu, to serve as a district judge of the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii.

Mr. Watson, 46, will fill a judgeship vacant since June 27, 2012, when District Judge David A. Ezra took senior status. Mr. Watson was originally nominated for the seat on November 13, 2012, but did not receive a confirmation vote by the Senate in the last session of Congress. President Obama renominated him on January 3, 2013.


Mr. Watson had been an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Hawaii since 2007 and had served as chief of the office’s Civil Division since 2009. He also was as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Northern District of California from 1995 to 2000, serving as deputy chief of the Civil Division.

In between his stints in government service, he worked at Farella Braun & Martel LLP, joining the San Francisco law firm in 2000 and becoming a partner in 2003. He began his legal career at the law firm of Landels, Ripley & Diamond LLP in San Francisco, where he was an associate from 1991 to 1995.

Mr. Watson received his A.B. from Harvard College in 1988 and his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1991. A Hawaiian native, he is a 1984 graduate of the Kamehameha Schools in Honolulu.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii had 1,065 new case filings in FY 2012. The court is authorized four judgeships and currently has no vacancy.

Federal district court judges, appointed under Article III of the Constitution, are nominated by the president, confirmed by the Senate and serve lifetime appointments upon good behavior.

Their current annual salary is $174,000