No good reason given for nominee’s rejection
The state Senate refused to confirm the nomination of Circuit Judge Randal Lee to the Intermediate Court of Appeals.
Questions remain about the state Senate's rejection of Gov. Linda Lingle's nomination of Circuit Judge Randal Lee to the Intermediate Court of Appeals because senators were less than candid about their reasons. Issues about a nominee's qualifications should be addressed fully in committee hearings, including the nominee's response to criticism. In Lee's case, the decision appears to have been made behind closed doors.
Lee's nomination brought doubts about his abilities when the Hawaii Bar Association board of directors was divided, eight to eight, about whether he was qualified for the post. The Senate Judiciary Committee heard four hours of pros and cons last week before voting 6-0 in favor of his confirmation.
All four Democrats on the committee voted "with reservations," a gimmick that gives them cover to switch positions. Back-room arm twisting ensued, and the Senate voted 16-9 against his confirmation four days later.
Lee, a deputy city prosecutor for many years, was nominated by Lingle and confirmed unanimously by the Senate two years ago to the circuit bench.
Lingle attributed Tuesday's defeat to Democrats' opposition to former criminal prosecutors to the appeals court. That should not be enough for rejection, nor should his relatively brief experience as a judge. Such examples from the past abound.
Lee's conduct in several cases as a prosecutor and as a judge were cited by opponents, but senators neglected to delve seriously into those actions. If appellate reversals were a trigger for rejection, the judicial candidate pool would be absurdly shallow. Sadly, Lingle's conclusion that the Senate's refusal to confirm Lee because of his background as a prosecutor, despite his integrity and legal knowledge, is probably correct.
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