Hawaii: hearing today on plans to change judicial selection in state; bills call for Senate re-confirmation at end of judicial terms in office

The Hawaii Senate’s Judiciary and Labor committee has scheduled a hearing today on plans to change the way the state selects its judges.

As previously discussed here there are two main proposals in the Senate.

Hawaii’s current system is made up of 2 elements:

  • Election for initial terms: Currently a list of nominees is sent by the Judicial Selection Commission to the governor (supreme court, intermediate appellate court, circuit court) or chief justice (district court) to select from. After a nominee is chosen he or she is subject to senate confirmation.
  • Additional terms: Currently judges seeking to remain in office go back before the Judicial Selection Commission for evaluation and re-approval; neither the governor nor the chief justice nor the senate is involved.

SB 673 Provides that the Senate must reconfirm any judge or justice for additional terms. In addition, it would change the default deadlines for confirmation; currently there is a default approval if the senate fails to act for the state’s higher courts (supreme, intermediate appellate, circuit) but default rejection for the lowest court (district).

SB 328 Provides that the Senate must reconfirm any judge or justice for additional terms.