Lingle chooses
2 new judges

The Circuit Court picks for Maui
and the Big Isle await Senate confirmation

KAILUA-KONA >> Gov. Linda Lingle has named attorney Elizabeth Ann "Betsy" Strance to become a Circuit Court judge in Kona and interim director of the Department of Public Safety, and Richard "Rick" Thomas Bissen Jr. to be a judge in Maui Circuit Court.

Both nominees will fill newly created positions that mark the expansion of the Judiciary on the two islands. Lingle selected both from lists of six candidates for each position submitted in December by the Judicial Selection Committee.

The two will assume their judicial duties following confirmation by the Senate.

Strance already has judicial experience as a per-diem judge since 1999 for the District and Family courts in Kona. That position called for her to serve on a part-time basis.

"We received a lot of positive input from the legal community in support of Elizabeth, and the common theme focused on her integrity, fairness and knowledge of the law," Lingle said.

She received her law degree from the Northwestern School of Law of Lewis & Clark College and her undergraduate degree from Willamette University.

Before Bissen moved to the Department of Public Safety, he served as the first deputy attorney general, where he worked to improve the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility.

"While I am personally saddened that he will leaving my administration, I know the public will continue to benefit from his legal expertise, strong work ethic and integrity as he returns home to Maui to the Circuit Court bench," Lingle said.

From 1995 to 2003, Bissen was a Maui prosecuting attorney where he handled violent crime and high-profile cases.

Bissen is a graduate of the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law and the University of Santa Clara. He also served on the faculty of the National Advocacy Center's prosecutor training facility at the University of South Carolina.

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