Controversial judge gets OK
Lobbying helps confirmation of Glenn Kim
The state has two new judges now that the Senate confirmed Mark Recktenwald as chief judge of the Intermediate Court of Appeals and Glenn Kim to the Oahu Circuit Court.
Kim survived a 16-9 vote with both Sen. Clayton Hee, Judiciary Committee chairman, and Senate President Colleen Hanabusa voting against the 14-year veteran deputy city prosecutor.
Votes for Glenn Kim: Sens. Rosalyn Baker, Robert Bunda, Suzanne Chun Oakland, Will Espero, Carol Fukunaga, Mike Gabbard, Fred Hemmings, Les Ihara, Lorraine Inouye, Donna Mercado Kim, Ron Menor, Clarence Nishihara, Sam Slom, Brian Taniguchi, Gordon Trimble and Paul Whalen
Voting against Kim: Sens. Clayton Hee, Colleen Hanabusa, J. Kalani English, Gary Hooser, David Ige, Russell Kokubun, Norman Sakamoto, Jill Tokuda and Shan Tsutsui
Kim's nomination became controversial after two former deputy prosecutors said Kim was abusive and disrespectful.
Although Kim had the support of Honolulu Prosecutor Peter Carlisle and Gov. Linda Lingle, Hee said he had doubts about Kim's judicial temperament.
In 2004 the Senate rejected Ted Hong as a Big Island Circuit Court judge on a 13-12 vote, after saying that he also lacked proper judicial temperament.
In the Hong case, however, the Hawaii Bar Association had given him a negative recommendation. Kim was rated qualified by the legal group.
Recktenwald, a former deputy federal attorney and the current state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs director, was confirmed without opposition.
Recktenwald takes over from James Burns as chief judge of the Intermediate Court of Appeals, the state's second-highest court.
Lobbying helps confirmation
Sen. Clayton Hee says it was his toughest decision, recommending the rejection of deputy city prosecutor Glenn Kim as a Circuit Court judge.
But for Republican Gov. Linda Lingle, it was one of her toughest fights as she maneuvered the nomination through the Senate's partisan minefield.
Hee (D, Kahuku-Kaneohe) lost his fight as the Senate voted 16-9 to confirm Kim.
"Being local, it is tough for us to be in opposition to local people," Hee said in an interview after the vote. "We have that aloha in each of us. It is hard to be different. And I have aloha for Mr. Kim."
Hee insisted that while Kim, 57, had a spectacular resume -- serving in Vietnam, winning the Bronze Star, earning two degrees from Harvard, graduating at the top of his law school class and working 14 years as a deputy Honolulu prosecutor -- his relationships with people were flawed.
Two former deputy prosecutors told Hee's Judiciary Committee that Kim was demeaning, disrespectful and abusive.
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Judicial nominee Glenn Kim, bottom left, had Gov. Linda Lingle and staffers, at top, as interested spectators yesterday at his confirmation vote in the Senate. Also on hand were city Prosecutor Peter Carlisle, at right behind Kim, and many other colleagues. CLICK FOR LARGE
Kim told Hee that he denied those charges, which led Hee to say during a 25-minute floor speech that Kim was saying that the women were lying to the committee.
"It is for the nominee to prove his worthiness," Hee said.
But Lingle and city Prosecutor Peter Carlisle had been working their own lobbying campaigns.
Thursday evening, Lingle, Carlisle and Bob Awana, Lingle's chief of staff, went separately door to door to ask senators for their support.
At the same time, senators were getting e-mail in support of Kim. Former state Sen. Russell Blair, who was a former deputy prosecutor and had worked with Kim, e-mailed his support, even though Blair is now living in California.
"Glenn's resume is backed up by his personal qualities. He is bright, hard-working, honorable, generous and is called to public service," Blair said.
Also supporting Kim were Democrats who had not sided with Hee and Senate President Colleen Hanabusa during the Senate reorganization last year.
Former Senate President Robert Bunda, for instance, helped line up votes for Kim.
Sen. Ron Menor, who had supported Bunda in past Senate organizations, said the vote also showed that Democratic politics was changing and that senators felt free to vote against the recommendations of a committee chairman.
"This would have never happened in the past," Menor said.
Hanabusa, who voted against Kim, discounted that assertion. "The Senate has been all over the place," she said. "The votes are just the votes."