Governor Releases Short List of Potential Supreme Court Candidates-First Circuit Court Candidates Also Named

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Gov. Linda Lingle released today a “short list” with six candidates for the Hawaii Supreme Court. They are:

*Lowell Chun-Hoon, an attorney specializing in workers’ comp issues;
*James Duffey Jr., an attorney in private practice;
*Eden E. Hifo, a judge in the First Circuit Court;
*Sabrina McKenna, a judge in the First Circuit Court;
*Richard Perkins, a former criminal attorney now serving as a judge in the First Circuit Court;
*Richard Pollack, the former state public defender, now a judge in the First Circuit Court.


Though the list was formally released by Gov. Linda Lingle’s office, she had nothing to do with the creation of the “short list.”

Candidates were actually selected by the Judicial Selection Commission after they submitted applications in January of 2003 to the commission, and then went through a rigorous process including interviews and background checks.

The Judicial Selection Commission, a 9-member body with appointees serving 6-year terms, is primarily made up of people selected by Democrats in key positions of power. Those asked to appoint to this highly important panel are the House Speaker (2 members), the Senate President (2 members), former Gov. Benjamin Cayetano (2 members), the chief justice (1 member); and the Hawaii Bar Association (2 members). The first opportunity the current governor, a Republican, will have to replace a member of this commission will come in a matter of weeks, as the term of Amy Agbiyani, one of the commissioners, is expiring within days.

Lingle has 30 days to select one of the candidates she was presented with and her nominee will then go before the Hawaii State Senate for formal confirmation. Should the governor miss the 30-day deadline, the commission is then allowed to make the final selection.

In an interview with, First Circuit Court Judge Sabrina McKenna says she is honored and humbled to be selected as one of the candidates on the short list.

The Judicial Selection Commission also put forward the names of 6 candidates vying for the position of First Circuit Court judge. Those are:

*John Gillmor
*Ronette Kawakami
*Gerald Kibe
*Rhonda Nishimura
*Peter Stone
*Michael Tanigawa

Once confirmed by the Hawaii State Senate, the judicial appointees in the Hawaii Supreme and First Circuit Courts, will serve a 10-year term before going for the Judicial Selection Commission for further review and another background check. The judicial selection commission would then be able to determine whether the judge should be given another 10-year term.