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Friday, March 31, 2000

Legislature 2000

Carlisle says
judge appointee has
antagonistic attitude

By Bruce Dunford
Associated Press


The state Senate's Judiciary Committee has recommended Senate confirmation of Gov. Ben Cayetano's appointment of District Court Judge Karen Ahn to a 10-year term as a Circuit Court judge.

During a confirmation hearing yesterday, Ahn won high praise from her colleagues, but was criticized by Honolulu Prosecutor Peter Carlisle.

She lacks the ability to be decisive and lacks proper judicial temperament, Carlisle said in written testimony.

Carlisle said his deputy prosecutors "characterize Judge Ahn's judicial temperament as an imperious attitude on the bench that unnecessarily antagonizes attorneys, witnesses and defendants alike.

"The deputies report that her attitude causes defendants to become more angry and volatile than they already are," he said.

Asked to respond, Ahn said early in her six years as a District Judge she reversed a couple of decisions after giving them more thought.

As for her judicial temperament, "I've tried to be firm," she said.

If the prosecutors had a problem with her judicial temperament, the judicial system has a process for them to raise the issue with the administrative judge or the Commission of Judicial Conduct, Ahn said.

"I've seen good judges and I've seen bad judges and I can tell you senators, in the past six years I've tried to be a good judge," she said.

Ahn is a former reporter for The Honolulu Advertiser and KITV and KHON television stations. She's a graduate of the University of Hawaii Law School and in 1995 was among those mentioned as a candidate to fill a federal court vacancy in Hawaii.

The state Senate on Tuesday voted to confirm Cayetano's appointment of former state Department of Land and Natural Resources Chairman Michael Wilson to the Circuit Court and earlier this month confirmed the appointment of Public Defender Richard Pollack to the Circuit Court.

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