“This is the most important decision I have made in my career,” Abercrombie said in announcing the selection.
“This appointment sets the course for the state and its legal direction for the next several years,” Abercrombie continued. “I am completely confident that Judge McKenna’s appointment will be something I’m proud of for the rest of my life.”
The appointment, which must be confirmed by the state Senate, fills a vacancy created last year when Gov. Linda Lingle elevated Associate Justice Mark Recktenwald to Chief Justice.
McKenna has served on the Circuit Court bench since 1995 and previously as a state District Court judge.
McKenna is a 1982 graduate of the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaii and earned an undergraduate degree at UH. She played on the UH Wahine basketball team.
Abercrombie selected McKenna from a list of nominees supplied by the state Judicial Selection Commission.
Breaking with tradition established by Lingle and Gov. Benjamin Cayetano, Abercrombie has declined to release the names of the other possible appointees, saying he believed public disclosure would discourage future possible judicial candidates from applying.