Seabright confirmed
as U.S. judge

The U.S. Senate votes without
opposition to place the prosecutor
on the federal bench

An assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted several high-profile white-collar criminal cases here is on his way to becoming Hawaii's fourth full-time federal judge.


Michael Seabright: As an assistant U.S. attorney, he put three isle politicians behind bars

The U.S. Senate voted 98-0 yesterday to confirm J. Michael Seabright as a U.S. district judge for the District of Hawaii.

"I'm very honored to have received that vote," said Seabright, 46, an assistant U.S. attorney since 1990 and head of the white-collar crime section since 2002.

He will fill the opening left vacant after U.S. District Judge Alan Kay went on senior status five years ago. Seabright was one of three candidates whom Gov. Linda Lingle recommended to the lifetime post.

Lingle joined members of the legal community yesterday in welcoming Seabright to the bench as Hawaii's newest federal judge, calling him highly qualified and well respected in the legal community.

Chief U.S. District Judge David Ezra, who has long pushed for another full-time judge, said the addition of a fourth judge will enable the federal court to reallocate its overburdened resources more effectively.

Combined with a budget shortfall, the lack of a fourth judge has taxed the federal court's resources tremendously in the past several years, resulting in delays in parties obtaining trials, particularly in civil cases, Ezra said.

"He will make a significant difference in getting civil trials more disposed of in a prompt and efficient way," Ezra said.

Seabright was the first person U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo approached to be one of his supervisors when Kubo became Hawaii's top federal prosecutor in 2002. Kubo considers him one of the top assistant U.S. attorneys in the office.

"I will truly miss Mike because he is the go-to man in our office, having tried one of the most important cases in white-collar crime," Kubo said. "I'm sure he will serve our country with the same dedication and professionalism that he has served as assistant U.S. attorney in our office. His elevation truly is Hawaii's gain."

Seabright is the fourth assistant U.S. attorney to be elevated in recent years. In 2000, John Peyton was selected by Lingle to head the state Department of Public Safety until he resigned two years later to return to Bosnia to implement the new nation's Rule of Law administration.

Lingle also named Mark Recktenwald in 2002 to head the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. Last year, she appointed Craig Nakamura to the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals.

"We are so thankful that the quality of our office is recognized not only statewide, but nationwide," Kubo said. "I know Mike will be an outstanding judge, and I am happy for him and his family."

U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, in remarks he gave on the Senate floor supporting Seabright's confirmation yesterday, called him a man with an "extraordinary record of achievement."

"I am pleased that my colleagues joined with me in finding Mr. Seabright's record to be very impressive," Inouye said. "I am certain that Mr. Seabright will continue his extraordinary record of achievement in his new role as a U.S. district judge."

Seabright has prosecuted government corruption cases, including former state Sen. Milton Holt, former state House Speaker Daniel Kihano, former City Councilman Andy Mirikitani and investigators at the Honolulu Liquor Commission.

Seabright has served on the Hawaii Supreme Court's disciplinary board since 1995 and is chairman of its Rules Committee, which is responsible for drafting proposed rules for the Hawaii Rules of Professional Conduct.

He was also a member of the Hawaii State Board of Bar Examiners and has been an adjunct professor at the University of Hawaii's William S. Richardson School of Law.

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