An old rule of public relations is to save bad news releases for Fridays, when people are usually thinking more about weekends and less about government affairs. Apparently, Attorney General David Louie’s people thought even Friday was too dangerous, so they waited until Saturday, Nov. 26 to comply with Judge Karl Sakamoto’s Nov. 14 ruling (in response to a lawsuit filed by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser) that Governor Neil Abercrombie had to make public the names of everyone he’s nominated for judgeships since taking office (see below for all the released names).
To say that Abercrombie finds the ruling loathsome is an understatement. Indeed, the press release attached to the Saturday list of names makes clear that Abercrombie is only doing this because the state Judicial Selection Commission has already released the names.
“The Governor has consistently maintained that the controlling legal authority for the release of such lists was the Judicial Selection Commission’s rule of confidentiality,” stated the news release from Louie’s office. “However, in light of the changed circumstances with the Commission’s actions, judicial applicants will no longer have any expectation of confidentiality. Consequently, the following lists are now being released.”
Had Abercrombie simply handed over the list of candidates when he made his nomination, this column probably wouldn’t have given a damn. But because Abercrombie insisted on playing the “special exemption” card (one not used by former Governors Linda Lingle and Ben Cayetano), and waited 12 days to comply with a court ruling, to say nothing of behaving as though openness and public disclosure were mere buzzwords–always to be uttered, never to be enforced–it became mandatory for us to comment upon the whole deal.
For instance, does it really harm current District Court Judge Kelsey T. Kawano now that the public knows he was on the Second Circuit Court Judge list (fellow District Court Judge Rhonda I. L. Loo ultmately got the nod after Wailuku attorney Joseph L. Wildman bailed following revelations of unpaid tax bills). How about local attorneys Mimi DesJardins, Douglas J. Sameshima (both of whom appeared on a district court nomination list last week) or David M. Jorgensen? Are their careers over now that we all know Abercrombie put forward their names as possible judges?
Abercombie has been in government a long time. Picking the right battle to fight is a lesson he should have learned a long time ago.
FROM ATTORNEY GENERAL DAVID LOUIE’S NOV. 26 PRESS RELEASE:
Associate Justice, Hawaii Supreme Court
Derrick H.M. Chan
Daniel R. Foley
Craig H. Nakamura
Richard W. Pollack
Judge, First Circuit Court
Leslie A. Hayashi
Shirley M. Kawamura
Lono J. Lee
Karen T. Nakasone
Bode A. Uale
Judge, Second Circuit Court
David M. Jorgensen
Kelsey T. Kawano
Rhonda I.L. Loo
Douglas J. Sameshima
Joseph L. Wildman
[Photo: Susan Roberts/Wikimedia Commons]