Senate Confirms Six Judicial Appointments
* Updated November 1, 5:59 AM
The Hawaiʻi State Senate voted to confirm the Governor’s Circuit Court appointments of Clarissa Y. Malinao, Kevin T. Morikone and Shanlyn A.S. Park to the First Circuit Court – Oʻahu; Kirstin M. Hamman to the Second Circuit Court – Maui; and Wendy M. DeWeese to the Third Circuit Court – Hawaiʻi Island.
In addition, the Senate also confirmed the Chief Justice’s appointment of Kimberly B.M. Taniyama to the District Court of the Third Circuit – Hawaiʻi Island.
Senator Karl Rhoads (District 13 – Dowsett Highlands, Pu‘unui, Nu‘uanu, Pacific Heights, Pauoa, Punchbowl, Pālama, Liliha, ʻIwilei, Chinatown, and Downtown), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee stated, “All six of the judges that were confirned today have exhibited the judicial temperance, skillsets and experience needed to be effective jurists. I wish them the best in their new roles. Today’s confirmation of five highly qualified female judges also moves our judiciary closer to gender parity. Of the filled positions, 47% of state court judges are female and 53% are male. This makes Hawai‘i one of the most gender-balanced benches in the country.”
Second Circuit – Maui
Judge Kirstin M. Hamman has served as a District Court Judge of the Second Circuit since 2014, first as a per diem judge and then full-time since confirmation in 2018. She has experience in private practice, specializing in family law and special education law, and was also an attorney with the Maui Office of Council Services, the Office of the Public Defender in the Maui office, and the Legal Aid Society of Hawaiʻi. She is a graduate of the University of Hawaiʻi- West Oʻahu and the William S. Richardson School of Law. Judge Hamman is filling the vacancy left by Circuit Judge Rhonda I. Loo, who retired in May 2021.
First Circuit – Oʻahu
Judge Clarissa Y. Malinao was most recently a solo practitioner focusing on criminal law in both state and federal courts and prior to that a Deputy Public Defender in the Honolulu office. For the past two years, she also served as a per diem District Court Judge of the First Circuit. In 2020, she was recognized as an Outstanding Pro Bono Attorney Honoree for her volunteer work with Volunteer Legal Services of Hawai‘i. Judge Malinao earned her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Seattle University and her law degree from Whittier Law School in California. She is filling the vacancy left by the retirement of Circuit Judge Edwin C. Nacino in 2020.
Judge Kevin T. Morikone has served on the First Circuit’s District Family Court bench since 2015, first as a per diem judge for three years and then as a full-time judge after being confirmed in 2018. During his tenure, he was temporarily assigned for seven months to the Circuit Court where he presided over eleven misdemeanor jury trials and since 2020 has served as Lead Judge of the Family Court’s Special Division. He previously spent a number of years practicing in civil litigation. Judge Morikone graduated from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa with a BA in political science and a certificate in ethnic studies and earned his law degree from the William S. Richardson School of Law. Judge Morikone is filling the vacancy left by former Circuit Judge Todd W. Eddins who was appointed to the Hawai‘i Supreme Court in 2020.
Judge Shanlyn A.S. Park Park has 25 years of experience as a criminal and civil litigator. She worked for twenty years in the Office of the Federal Public Defender in the Honolulu office, first as an Assistant Federal Public Defender and then as a Senior Litigator. In 2017, she moved to private practice, specializing in insurance defense, commercial litigation, contested probate matters and criminal defense. She graduated from Chaminade University with a BA in English and earned her law degree from the William S. Richardson School of Law. Judge Park is filling the vacancy left by former Circuit Judge Karen T. Nakasone, who was appointed to the Intermediate Court of Appeals in 2020.
Third Circuit – Hawaiʻi Island
Judge Wendy M. DeWeese has been a judge in the Third Circuit – Hawai‘i Island since 2018. She was appointed to the District Family Court and since July 2020 has been temporarily assigned to the Circuit Court where she has presided over the Big Island Drug Court, the Big Island Veterans’ Treatment Court, felony criminal trials, civil cases including foreclosures, and jury and non-jury trials. Prior to her appointment to the bench, Judge DeWeese was a Deputy Public Defender in the Kona office for 11 years and previously practiced in California. She received a BA from Pomona College in California and her law degree from the Southwestern University School of Law in California. Judge DeWeese is filling the vacancy left by Circuit Judge Melvin H. Fujino, who retired in 2020.
Judge Kimberly B.M. Taniyama has been a District Court Per Diem Judge in Kona and a solo practitioner with the Law Office of Kimberly B. Taniyama since 2017. Prior to starting her own practice, she was a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney for Hawai‘i County for 19 years. Judge Taniyama graduated from Loyola Marymount University in California and the William S. Richardson School of Law. She is filling the vacancy left by the retirement of District Judge Margaret K. Masunaga in 2020.