Judicial selection in Hawaii
|Judicial selection in Hawaii|
|Hawaii Supreme Court|
|Method:||Comm. select., Gov. appt., Senate confirmation|
|Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals|
|Method:||Comm. select., Gov. appt., Senate confirmation|
|Hawaii Circuit Courts|
|Hawaii District Courts|
Selection of state court judges in Hawaii occurs through the commission-selection, political appointment method. Judges of the appellate and circuit courts are appointed by the governor from a list of names compiled by a nominating commission; family and district court judges are similarly appointed by the chief justice of the supreme court.
Supreme Court and Intermediate Court of Appeals
The five justices of the Hawaii Supreme Court and the six judges of the Intermediate Court of Appeals are selected in an identical manner. The governor chooses an appointee from a list of four to six qualified candidates submitted by the judicial nominating commission, and the nominee is confirmed by vote of the Hawaii Senate. If a justice wishes to serve additional terms, he or she may seek to be retained by the nomination commission. Subsequent terms also last ten years.
To serve on either of these two courts, a judge must be:
- a U.S. resident and citizen;
- a resident and citizen of the state;
- a practicing attorney in the state for at least ten years; and
- under the age of 70 (retirement by 70 is mandatory retirement).
If a midterm vacancy occurs, the position is filled just as it would be if the vacancy occurred at the end of a judge's term. The governor appoints a successor from a list provided by a nominating commission, and the appointee faces confirmation from the state senate. Newly appointed judges serve full ten-year terms.
There are 33 judges serving the 4 Hawaii Circuit Courts. Each are appointed to ten year terms through a process identical to that of the supreme and intermediate appellate courts. Judicial qualifications and retention policies are the same as well.
Limited jurisdiction courts
|Family Court||District Court|
|Selection:||Supreme court chief justice appoints from nomination commission; senate confirms||Supreme court chief justice appoints from nomination commission; senate confirms|
|Re-election method:||Retained by nominating commission||Retained by nominating commission|
|Qualifications:||State and U.S. resident and citizen; circuit resident; at least 5 years of in-state practice; mandatory retirement at 70||State and U.S. resident and citizen; circuit resident; at least 5 years of in-state practice; mandatory retirement at 70|
Judicial nominating commission
The judicial selecting commission, which evaluates and recommends candidates to fill judicial vacancies, is comprised of nine members, no more than four of whom may be lawyers:
- Two members are appointed by the governor (only one of whom may be an attorney);
- Four members are appointed by the president of the senate and the speaker of the house of representatives (two apiece);
- One member is appointed by the chief justice of the supreme court; and
- Two members (both lawyers) are selected by the Hawaii State Bar Association.
Commissioners serve staggered six-year terms and are limited to one term each.
Since Hawaii became a state in 1959, only a few formal changes have been made to its judiciary. Below is timeline of the changes made to Hawaii's selection processes since its inception, from the most recent to the earliest:
- 1979: A commission on judicial conduct is created by the supreme court.
- 1978: The intermediate appellate court is created, along with the judicial selection commission. The power to discipline, remove, and retire judges is transferred to the supreme court.
- 1968: Terms of supreme court and circuit court judges are increased to ten years, and legislative removal of judges is abolished.
- 1959: Under Hawaii's original constitution, judges are appointed by the governor with senate confirmation. Supreme court justices are appointed to seven-year terms and circuit court judges to six-year terms. A mandatory retirement age of 70 is established. Judges may be removed by a two-thirds vote of each legislative house sitting in joint session or may be retired by the governor after inquiry and recommendation by a board.
Selection of federal judges
United States District Court judges, who are selected from each state, go through a different selection process than that of state judges.
The district courts are served by Article III federal judges who are appointed for life, during "good behavior." They are usually first recommended by senators (or members of the House, occasionally). The President of the United States of America makes the appointments, which must then be confirmed by the U.S. Senate in accordance with Article III of the United States Constitution.
|Step||Candidacy Proceeds||Candidacy Halts|
|1. Recommendation made by Congress member to the President||President nominates to Senate Judiciary Committee||President declines nomination|
|2. Senate Judiciary Committee interviews candidate||Sends candidate to Senate for confirmation||Returns candidate to President, who may re-nominate to committee|
|3. Senate votes on candidate confirmation||Candidate becomes federal judge||Candidate does not receive judgeship|
- Hawaii judicial elections
- Commission-selection, political appointment method
- Political appointment
- Courts in Hawaii
- Official website of the Hawaii State Judiciary
- American Judicature Society, "Judicial Selection in the States: Hawaii"
- American Judicature Society, "Methods of Judicial Selection: Hawaii," accessed June 27, 2014
- American Judicature Society, "Methods of Judicial Selection: Hawaii; Limited Jurisdiction Courts," accessed June 27, 2014
- American Judicature Society, "Methods of Judicial Selection: Hawaii; Judicial Nomination Commissions," accessed June 27, 2014
- American Judicature Society, "History of Reform Efforts: Hawaii," accessed June 27, 2014
- US Courts, "FAQ: Federal Judges"