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Saturday, April 15, 2000

Cayetano hopes
for speedy
for Acoba

But some say his defense-oriented
reputation in criminal cases
may become an issue

Civil rights watchdog moves to bench
Nominations keep lawmakers busy

By Richard Borreca


Calling Simeon Acoba "my kind of a judge," Gov. Ben Cayetano is hoping for a speedy confirmation to his first state Supreme Court nomination.

Legislature 2000 Acoba should have been on the Supreme Court "a long time ago," said Cayetano, who is also an attorney.

"He has tremendous integrity and compassion. He's going to be a hell of a judge," the governor said yesterday afternoon.

Explaining that he wants a judge on the court who considers the Hawaii Cnstitution "a living document," Cayetano said he was looking for a judge who would not rewrite the constitution, but would not give it too strict an interpretation.

A Senate confirmation hearing is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday morning before the Judiciary Committee.

Committee Co-Chairman Sen. Avery Chumbley said the committee is looking for a Supreme Court nominee who has experience as a jurist.

"So Judge Acoba's background would be an advantage," he said.

Chumbley added, however, that Acoba has a reputation of being a defense-oriented judge and the committee will have to review his rulings.

In 1982, then-city Prosecutor Charles Marsland tangled with Acoba when he was serving as a judge in criminal court. Marsland supported one of his deputy prosecutors, Kenneth Nam, who used obscene language to describe Acoba following a ruling that Nam didn't like.

The fray attracted Cayetano, who was a state senator at the time. The charges and name-calling provided more than a month of political theater, including Cayetano at one time waving a machete over his head during a Senate speech about Marsland.

Yesterday Marsland declined to comment on Acoba's nomination.

Acoba moved from criminal to civil court after the dust-up.

He served from 1980 to 1994 on the circuit court, before being named an associate judge of the intermediate court of appeals.

He also has served as an adjunct professor of law at the University of Hawaii Richardson School of Law and as an attorney for Democrats in the state House in 1975.

Cayetano and Acoba shared office space when they both were private attorneys 20 years ago.

Acoba was selected from a list of five persons selected by the Judicial Selection Commission. The others on the list were Alexa D.M. Fujise, Circuit Judge Richard Perkins, Senior Circuit Judge Michael A. Town and Circuit Judge Frances Q.F. Wong.

Legislature Directory
Legislature Bills & Hawaii Revised Statutes

Sakamoto fills
court position


Gov. Ben Cayetano's appointment of civil rights watchdog Karl Sakamoto to a Circuit Court judgeship moves him from the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission to the bench.

Sakamoto, commission deputy director, fills a vacancy of the Oahu Circuit Court, First Division, left by Circuit Judge Elwin Ahu.

"Karl Sakamoto has done an outstanding job for nearly 10 years enforcing our anti-discrimination laws at the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission and representing indigent citizens as a deputy public defender," Cayetano said. "His commitment to public service, integrity and compassion are qualities that will serve him well on the Circuit Court."

Legislature Directory
Legislature Bills & Hawaii Revised Statutes

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