Big Isle judge
retires in April

Among Circuit Judge Riki May Amano's
most famous cases are the Dana Ireland trials

By Rod Thompson

HILO >> Big Island Circuit Judge Riki May Amano, who presided over the 1999-2000 Dana Ireland murder trials, among other cases, will retire April 11.

On nearing the 10th anniversary of her appointment, Amano had applied to the state Judicial Selection Commission for another 10-year term but recently withdrew the application, commission Chairwoman Amy Agbayani confirmed.

Amano's letter of withdrawal did not give a reason, and she could not be reached for comment.

Agbayani has been on the commission for about two years. She said that during that time, two to four of the state's 33 Circuit Court judges applied for retention, then withdrew without comment.

None of the applicants were turned down outright, she said.

Amano's withdrawal of her application came after normal procedures in which lawyers volunteer comments and the commission requests additional comments, Agbayani said. All the comments are confidential. The commission will now draw up a list of four to six applicants to replace Amano. Gov. Linda Lingle will select one of the nominees, and the name will go to the Senate for confirmation.

Amano's best-known cases were the trials of two young men accused of the 1991 kidnapping, rape and murder of 23-year-old Dana Ireland, and the sentencing of a third young man in the case following a plea agreement.

Amano's handling of other cases was considered controversial.

In a lawsuit in which 19 police officers charged the former chief and former deputy of the Hawaii County Police Department with cheating on promotions in the 1980s and 1990s, a jury, acting on Amano's instructions, found former Chief Wayne Carvalho responsible for acts in the department that took place after he left.

Attorney Gale Ching, who represented Carvalho, said yesterday: "I wish Judge Amano well. We had disagreements. We respected her rulings but we disagreed."

Attorney Brian De Lima, who represented one of the winning officers in the trial and made suggestions several times during the case that Amano followed, praised her.

"I thought she was fair and excellent," De Lima said.

Amano made news recently when she sentenced a defendant in an assault and robbery case to two years at Habilitat drug treatment center while Judge Greg Nakamura sentenced an accomplice to five years in prison.

De Lima, who represented the man going to Habilitat, said Amano seemed to give his client a lighter sentence but had also ordered him to serve 21 years if he fails in Habilitat.

"A lot of times, judges are in a difficult position, not being able to explain themselves (because of judicial rules)," he said.

Amano was appointed as a Circuit Court judge by former Gov. John Waihee.


2 appointed to
posts in local courts

By Debra Barayuga

An attorney who mediates or arbitrates disputes in cases and the administrative director for the state Judiciary have been appointed to vacancies in Honolulu courts.

Chief Justice Ronald Moon appointed Bert Ayabe as District Court judge and Michael Broderick as District Family Court judge yesterday.

Ayabe will fill a vacancy created when Judge Marcia Waldorf was elevated to Circuit Court judge. Broderick will fill a vacancy left by the resignation of the District Family Court judge John Bryant Jr.

Ayabe is a sole practitioner who specializes in personal injury and commercial litigation cases, arbitrations and mediations.

Attorney Craig Furusho, who practiced law with Ayabe at Hisaka, Furusho and Ayabe, said his former law firm partner is well respected in the legal community and treats everyone with respect.

"He has a very good sense of fairness and is a very ethical attorney," Furusho said. "I think he would do a great job as a judge."

The fact that he is selected by other attorneys to help them resolve their cases says it all, Furusho said. "He's sort of a private judge" in those cases, he said.

Ayabe received his law degree from Hastings College of Law in San Francisco in 1981. After practicing law in Los Angeles for several years, Ayabe returned to Hawaii in 1986 and joined the firm of Hisaka and Furusho.

In 1988, the firm became Hisaka, Furusho and Ayabe when he became a partner. He left in 1994 to start his own practice.

Broderick, the administrative director of the courts for more than five years, graduated in 1983 from the University of California-Los Angeles Law School. He worked in private practice, handling commercial litigation and employment law cases. He served as legal counsel to Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, was a policy and research analyst for the state Board of Education and was director of the Judiciary's Center for Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland (D, Palama-Alewa Heights), co-chairwoman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, praised Broderick, saying he has the temperament to be a judge.

"In all his dealings with myself and others, he's been very fair," she said. "He's a good listener and a good attorney. His temperament and how he deals with people is very evenhanded and caring."

Broderick currently serves on the board of directors of the YMCA of Honolulu and the Boys and Girls Club of Hawaii, and is president of the board of the Hawaii Justice Foundation.

The appointments are subject to confirmation by the state Senate.

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