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Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Hawaii needs to fill its federal judicial vacancy

I am writing this letter on behalf of the federal judiciary in Hawaii to alert members of our community to the crisis now facing Hawaii's federal court.

The District of Hawaii is currently entitled to four active U.S. district judges. Of these four slots, three are permanent and one is temporary; after October 2004, if a vacancy occurs it cannot be filled unless it is made permanent by legislation. More than 3 1/2 years ago, Judge Alan Kay took Senior Judge status, leaving our federal court with such a vacancy. The heavy caseload and the length of time this vacancy has existed has caused the Judicial Conference of the United States (of which I am the Ninth Circuit's District Judge representative) to designate the District of Hawaii in Judicial Emergency status.

On Jan. 23, 2002, President Bush nominated Frederick W. Rohlfing III to fill the vacancy created when Judge Kay took Senior status. Rohlfing received a highly qualified rating from the Hawaii State Bar Association, but an unqualified rating from the American Bar Association. The latter rating has stalled his nomination, making his now the oldest unconfirmed District Court nomination pending before the U.S. Senate.

Even with the many extra hours put in by each active judge and the assistance of our Senior Judges, the lack of a fourth active judge in our district has caused unacceptable delays in the handling of both civil and criminal matters. This problem was recently exacerbated by my having to forgo handling trials during the remaining summer months due to medical treatment. Although I am expected to make a complete recovery, the circumstance highlights just how tenuous our federal court situation is.

We take no position on Rohlfing's nomination; that is a matter for the president and the U.S. Senate. However, the stalemate cannot continue much longer before we will be required to call in visiting federal judges from the mainland on a regular basis. We have already been compelled to request visiting judge assistance this summer.

The people of Hawaii deserve to have the important cases that come before our federal courts presided over by federal judges from our community who know and understand the many unique aspects of our way of life in Hawaii. The people of Hawaii also deserve to have their federal judicial matters handled expeditiously. Therefore, we believe it is important that our community understand the critical need to immediately fill Hawaii's fourth judicial vacancy without further delay, and to have legislation passed by Congress to transfer the temporary position to a permanent one.

David Alan Ezra
Chief U.S. District Judge

Dobelle offers hope, vision to Hawaiians

Regarding "Embracing hope" (Insight, July 13), Evan Dobelle is the first University of Hawaii president in 100 years to support Hawaiian education. He believes a wrong was done to the Hawaiian people and he wants UH to help ameliorate that wrong through educational access.

His speeches support Hawaiian rights even when there are no Hawaiians in the audience, and even when he knows he will be attacked by those who are anti-Hawaiian. For this reason alone he would be my hero.

Dobelle also has vision and a desire to do what is right. He has given us hope at this university. In the last 30 years, who else has championed decent faculty salaries? While we know the Legislature has no money for raises, it is gratifying that our president champions our worth.

In regard to fund raising, the plans made when Dobelle was hired were radically changed by 9/11. Who in America since that time has been able to raise a substantial amount of money?

Finally, if the Board of Regents thinks Dobelle spends too much on administration, then let it exercise its veto power.

Lilikala Kame'eleihiwa
Director, Kamakakuokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies
Member, Puko'a UH System Native Hawaiian Advisory Council

Dobelle talks a good story, but ...

I read Sunday's special report about the great Evan Dobelle, written by Evan Dobelle, with disbelief. He does a great job writing about Evan Dobelle, even if he is coming up short as University of Hawaii president.

UH is in shambles while Dobelle is paid $442,000 a year and his friend, coach June Jones, is paid $800,000. He has created administrative positions -- in what would best be described as "empire building" -- at salaries much higher than those paid to UH's educators. One might think UH is so financially strong that Dobelle doesn't need to use his considerable skills at raising money from outside sources.

Perhaps Dobelle could be kept on in a public-relations role by the next UH president.

Keith Haugen
UH alumnus

God wasn't kidding about homosexuality

The United States should avoid Canada's policy to legalize gay marriages. God teaches otherwise:

Leviticus 18:22: Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable (New International Version of the Bible); abomination (King James); ... hateful thing. (Jerusalem Bible).

The penalty, according to Leviticus 20:13: They must be put to death.

Was God kidding? Unless we wake up to the true issue, we will end up like the twin evil cities of Sodom and Gomorrah that God destroyed.

Henry Uehara


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