HONOLULU (AP) – The Hawaii Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony Monday about the nomination of Daniel Gluck, executive director of the Hawaii Ethics Committee, to the Intermediate Court of Appeals.
Critics have questioned Governor David Ige’s choice of Gluck, a white man, for the job, stating that it has been 30 years since a Hawaiian native was appointed to the appeals court and 20 since a Hawaiian native was appointed to the Supreme Court .
Others have questioned his legal experience as he has not brought as many cases to court as other potential candidates proposed by the state Judicial Selection Board.
The committee did not vote on the nomination. Justice Committee chairman Karl Rhoads said the committee would vote on Wednesday.
Gluck’s supporters highlighted his keen legal mind, commitment to social justice, and fairness.
Lois Perrin, who previously worked with Gluck at the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii, said he was balanced and able to settle disputes.
“I’ve seen him read opinions and try to understand every facet of every argument and really get a handle on it. And I think that’s so important to someone who may be appointed to an appeals court, ”Perrin told the committee.
Kapua Sproat, a law professor at the University of Hawaii, said she had objections to Gluck’s relative lack of work and life experience compared to others on the six-person list of candidates the Commission presented to Ige.
She said lived experience is important, citing the example of William S. Richardson, a native Hawaiian who was Hawaii’s chief judge from 1966 to 1982. She said Richardson brought Hawaiian values and culture into Hawaiian laws. She said that because of this, Hawaii law protects public beaches and water in streams, and guarantees indigenous Hawaiians the right to practice their culture.
“You may hear criticism of its jurisdiction as provincial, but I call it culturally relevant,” she said of Richardson.
Several said they had problems with Ige Gluck picking over three qualified native Hawaiian women on the commission’s list.
Marti Townsend, director of the Sierra Club of Hawaii, said it was a problem when the ruled and the rulers didn’t see each other.
“Almost half of those ruled in Hawaii do not see themselves in our justice system. This is a serious problem for the functioning of our democracy, ”she said.
Zuri Aki, the public policy director for the Council on Native Hawaiian Advancement, said Indigenous Hawaiians are over-represented among those arrested, detained and convicted, although they are not more likely to commit crimes.
“This correlates with the lack of representation of the Hawaiian Indians in the judiciary,” he said.
Gluck and his lawyers said he did not go to court as often as others would have considered for the position because many of the legal cases he was involved in at the ACLU and the ethics committee were settled prior to trial.
Pankaj Bhanot, the former director of the State Department of Human Services, said there are “innumerable” examples of brilliant legal minds who work in courts without much litigation experience, including the US Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan.
“I am amazed that we are so firmly attached to litigation, which is not the only criterion for practicing the legal profession,” he said.
Under Hawaiian law, the Judicial Selection Commission reviews and evaluates applications for all positions in the judiciary. It selects qualified candidates in a secret ballot. The governor selects candidates for the appellate courts and the highest courts from the lists provided by the commission.
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