Senate panel rejects judicial nominee
Mark Recktenwald, director of the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, appears headed for approval as the Intermediate Court of Appeals chief judge.
But the Senate Judiciary Committee that approved Recktenwald's nomination has rejected the nomination of city Deputy Prosecutor Glenn Kim to the Oahu Circuit Court.
Sen. Clayton Hee recommended that Kim's nomination be rejected, despite Kim's 14 years as prosecutor. Kim also earned a Bronze Star during the Vietnam War, graduated first in his University of Hawaii law school class and holds a master's degree and doctorate from Harvard University.
The Judiciary Committee voted 3-2 against Kim, with Sens. Hee, Russell Kokubun and Clarence Nishihara voting to reject and Sens. Mike Gabbard and Lorraine Inouye voting in favor of Kim.
Although Kim had nearly unanimous support from deputies in the Prosecutor's Office and the strong support of Honolulu Prosecutor Peter Carlisle, his nomination was opposed by two former deputy prosecutors, Liza Tom and Lynne McGivern.
Tom, now a deputy prosecutor in the Los Angeles district attorney's office, wrote to Hee saying Kim had "a broken moral compass."
Yesterday, McGivern was subpoenaed to testify. She said Kim disrespected those with less seniority, particularly women.
"I do have concerns that he lacks the appropriate judicial temperament and also lacks the capacity to truly hear different points of view and treat all litigants with the utmost respect," McGivern told the committee under oath.
"Mr. Kim has some fundamental issues dealing with other people who he considers are not as bright as him," McGivern said.
Kim said he rejected all of McGivern's and Tom's charges, saying they were all false.
Noting that he had given Tom a poor job evaluation as her supervisor, Kim said he knew she was not happy with him.
"But I don't know why she is saying these things she is saying," Kim said. "I simply deny everything in that letter. It is simply not true."
Kim also denied all of McGivern's charges.
"I have never in my 14 years as a prosecutor treated anybody disrespectfully, dismissively, contemptuously, abusively or inappropriately. I didn't do that and I never had," Kim said.
That total rejection, Hee said, was what caused him to feel that Kim lacked the temperament to be a judge.
"It is difficult to find the judicial temperament in someone who categorically denies what others have said," Hee said.
"If Mr. Kim had something less strident, it would be easier to agree.
"If you categorically deny, that for me is troublesome," Hee said.
Hee called the hearing troublesome because Kim's resume was the best he had ever seen.
After the hearing, Attorney General Mark Bennett, who was on a screening committee that recommended Kim's nomination to Gov. Linda Lingle, said he hoped that Kim would survive in a vote by the Senate.
Carlisle said judicial temperament is a difficult thing to describe but that Kim would make a good judge.
"Some people like touchy-feely judges; others like judges who keep control in their courtroom. I think that someone who has such a firm understanding of the law and is willing to listen would run the type of courtroom that anyone would be happy to be in," Carlisle said.
Both the Kim and Recktenwald nominations must be voted on tomorrow by the entire Senate.