Mark Recktenwald Nominated as Chief Justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court

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Chief Justice Nominee Mark Recktenwald and Gov. Linda Lingle (Mel Ah Ching Productions)

HONOLULU – Governor Linda Lingle today nominated Associate Justice Mark E. Recktenwald to serve as Chief Justice of the Hawai‘i State Supreme Court.

Recktenwald, 54, would succeed Chief Justice Ronald Moon to become Hawai‘i’s fifth Chief Justice. He would serve an initial 10-year term as the head of the State’s highest court, while overseeing the Hawai‘i Judiciary.


“I am honored to appoint Associate Justice Recktenwald to be Hawai‘i’s next Supreme Court Chief Justice,” said Governor Lingle. “Justice Recktenwald is highly regarded in the legal community and I have confidence that he will guide our courts in ensuring the rule of law is upheld and the tenants of our Constitution are protected.

“In addition to his outstanding legal expertise, Justice Recktenwald possesses exceptional leadership ability and strong administrative experience that garners respect and admiration, while achieving results. Before serving on the bench, Mark was an effective manager when he was director of the department in charge of protecting and advocating for the interests of Hawai‘i’s consumers and businesses. As chief judge of the Intermediate Court of Appeals Mark brought thoughtful leadership that helped elevate the court’s efficiency, responsiveness and accessibility. During his tenure as an associate justice, he has continued to demonstrate his strong work ethic, knowledge of the law and passion for public service,” the Governor added.

Recktenwald joined the Supreme Court last May when Governor Lingle appointed him to replace retired Associate Justice Steven Levinson. He previously served for two years (2007-2009) as chief judge of the Intermediate Court of Appeals, during which time he participated in deciding more than 250 cases on their merits and authored 10 published opinions. Under his guidance, the court moved forward in implementing a 2006 reorganization plan of the appellate system, with an emphasis on deciding the court’s cases more promptly. The Appeals Court also instituted the practice of holding oral arguments on a regular monthly basis.

In both of his prior confirmation proceedings, Recktenwald was unanimously confirmed by the State Senate (25-0 for chief appellate judge and 22-0 for associate justice).

Prior to his appointment to the Intermediate Court of Appeals, Recktenwald served as the director of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (2003-2007). During his tenure, he focused on expanding protections against identity theft and enforcing Hawai‘i’s consumer protection laws, including guarding against unfair and deceptive trade and business practices, and insurance and securities fraud. He also worked to make the department’s services more convenient for the public by expanding and enhancing on-line services.

Recktenwald is a former assistant United States Attorney (1991-1997, 1999-2003) who was responsible for litigating civil and criminal cases including white collar crimes. He served as the health care fraud coordinator and environmental law enforcement coordinator for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and was a prosecutor in wildlife crimes and fraud involving financial institutions, taxes and investment scams. He also worked in the civil division, handling cases in which the government sought civil damages for fraud.

Recktenwald was a partner with the law firm of Marr Jones and Wang (1997-1999) where he specialized in employment litigation. He also worked as an associate with Goodsill Anderson Quinn and Stifel (1888-1991) and was a law clerk to Chief U.S. District Judge Harold Fong (1986-1987). In addition, he has experience working as an investigator/researcher for the United States Senate as well as a committee clerk for the Hawai‘i State Legislature. He previously worked as a reporter in the United Press International’s Honolulu Bureau.

He is a graduate of Harvard University and the University of Chicago Law School.

Governor Lingle selected Recktenwald from a list of five remaining candidates that were submitted to her by the Judicial Selection Commission on June 22, 2010. All of the candidates were interviewed by Governor Lingle, as well as a committee made up of members of the Governor’s senior staff and cabinet. The Governor also invited the public to submit comments on the candidates.

According to the Hawai‘i State Constitution, the State Senate has 30 days to confirm or reject the nomination. If the Senate fails to take action within 30 days, it shall be deemed to have given its consent to the Governor’s appointment.

During her term in office, Governor Lingle has named two of five justices to the Hawai‘i Supreme Court, five of six judges to the Intermediate Court of Appeals, and 17 of 33 judges to the Circuit Court.

Submitted by the governor’s office