Friday, February 5, 1999

Prosecutor testifies against
nomination of Graulty

Associated Press


Former state Sen. Rey Graulty is a good candidate to become a Circuit Court judge but not the best candidate, city Prosecutor Peter Carlisle says.

Carlisle said he had no information showing Graulty has sufficient courtroom trial experience to sit as a Circuit Court judge, especially when compared to the four veteran District Court judges also on the list sent to Gov. Ben Cayetano by the Judicial Selection Commission.

"It is time that we stop selecting people for the bench on the basis of political connections and what is politically correct and select them on the basis of merit," Carlisle said at Graulty's confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

1999 Hawaii State Legislature Both Graulty, the state's insurance commissioner, and Cayetano are Democrats.

While Graulty "is a remarkably nice guy ... we need a system that selects judges on the basis of experience, ability and merit rather than on who they know and their service to a particular political party," said Carlisle, who insists he is nonpartisan.

Graulty said he believes that Carlisle's description of him as a "nice guy" was a "left-handed compliment" that he's not happy about.

"I think I'm much more than just a nice guy," he said, noting a high rating from his fellow attorneys. "I think my qualifications do not take a back seat to anyone."

The prosecutor was the only person to speak against Cayetano's nomination of Graulty to a 10-year term in the First Circuit Court in Honolulu.

Despite Carlisle's objections, the committee forwarded to the full Senate its recommendation that Graulty be confirmed.

The Senate is expected to vote on the matter next week.

Committee co-chairman Avery Chumbley, D-East Maui-North Kauai, said Carlisle's objections appeared to focus more on the system of judicial selection than on Graulty's qualifications to be a judge.

A parade of attorneys, labor union leaders and representatives of Hawaii's Filipino community testified or submitted written statements supporting Graulty.

Former law partner Alfredo Evangelista disputed Carlisle's claim that Graulty lacked experience.

Aside from handling substantive changes to civil and criminal law as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Graulty handled 931 Circuit Court cases in private practice, he said.

Also, his fellow attorneys have given Graulty a rating that reflects very high ethical standards and legal ability, Evangelista said.

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