Intermediate Court of Appeals Judge, the Honorable Katherine Leonard, has been nominated by Governor Lingle to serve as our next Chief Justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court. On August 3, 2010 the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony to consider her qualifications. I attended the entire hearing and was honored to give testimony in support of Judge Leonard. Judge Leonard has broad support among the Hawaii legal profession. The Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony in support of Judge Leonard from the Hawaii Attorney General, the Honolulu Prosecutor’s office, the Public Defender’s Office, former Hawaii Supreme Court Justice Klein, several retired Judges of the Hawaii Circuit Court, the Hawaii Women’s Lawyers Association and several of her former law professors at the William H. Richardson School of Law. Many of Hawaii’s most prominent attorneys also testified in strong support of Judge Leonard.
There also were some prominent critics of Governor Lingle’s selection who gave testimony that Judge Leonard simply is not ready to be Chief Justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court. No witness questioned Judge Leonard’s honesty, intellect, or work ethic. Although I have great respect for those individuals that testified against Judge Leonard’s nomination, respectfully, I disagree. I have known Judge Leonard for seventeen years, since we were both associates at the Carlsmith Ball law firm. She is a tireless worker, has great intellect, and is devoted to the Judiciary. Although a few witnesses questioned whether Judge Leonard has the leadership qualities necessary to be Chief Judge, based on my personal knowledge of Katherine Leonard, I am ready to follow Judge Leonard’s leadership.
Judge Leonard will be an excellent Chief Justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court.