Hawaii Women Lawyers: Judge Leonard Eminently ‘Qualified’ to be Chief Justice

Judge Kate Leonard testifying at Senate JGO committee
Judge Kate Leonard testifying at Senate JGO committee
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Judge Kate Leonard testifying at Senate JGO committee
Judge Kate Leonard testifying at Senate JGO committee

On the eve of the full Senate vote on Friday morning, Hawaii Women Lawyers (“HWL”) wishes to express its sincere admiration of Judge Katherine Leonard and her family for their courage and stamina, while staying gracious and poised throughout the confirmation proceedings.

As an engaged constituency, HWL remains hopeful that “qualified women lawyers” will continue to apply and be advanced to positions of authority and leadership in the legal profession.


HWL has new perspectives on the state of the judiciary in Hawaii, how things get processed, what “qualities” are relevant, and who among us is “qualified” to lead the Hawaii Supreme Court. It appears that the minimum requirements include “administrative experience” and the “ability to lead.”

The million dollar question that remains is “how much” will be enough? HWL obviously continues to believe that
Judge Leonard has these qualities and hopes that the majority of the full Senate will reach the same
conclusion tomorrow.

What may have surprised us the most is that several Democratic HWL board members found themselves
actually in support of a Republican Governor’s judicial nominee, because we agree with her that Judge
Leonard is “qualified” on the merits. We suspect other lawyers also found themselves in a strange,
somewhat foreign, bipartisan territory.

If she is confirmed, based on Judge Leonard’s available decisions, “her court” should be one that is fair, moderate, thorough and mindful of precedent. We emphasize very strongly, we found Judge Leonard eminently “qualified,” not because she is a woman, but because she is qualified on the merits.

HWL has tremendous respect for the Senators and the decision they are about to make. Ultimately, it is the Senate’s legislative prerogative to “advise and consent,” and we hope that the majority of the Senate will conclude tomorrow that Judge Leonard should be confirmed as the next Chief Justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court.

Submitted by the Hawaii Women Lawyers