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State of Hawaii

Judicial Selection in the States: Hawaii

Overview

News

The Montana House State Administration Committee yesterday approved a bill to require judges recuse from cases due to campaign contributions. Under HB 157 as approved...

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Courtesy of the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of...

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The Hawaii judiciary consists of the supreme court, the intermediate court of appeals, and various trial courts, including the circuit court, the district court, and the family court. The circuit court is the trial court of general jurisdiction. Hawaii judges are chosen through a variation of the merit selection process. The governor appoints judges of the appellate courts and the circuit court from a list of names submitted by the judicial selection commission, while the chief justice appoints district and family court judges from a commission list. Appointees must be confirmed by the senate. Upon the completion of their terms, judges may be retained by a majority vote of the members of the judicial selection commission.

Under Hawaii's original constitution, judges were appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the senate. The constitutional convention of 1978 approved an amendment calling for the establishment of the judicial selection commission to select judges based "solely on their qualifications and not on political patronage," and the amendment was ratified by voters later that year. The judicial selection commission began nominating candidates for judicial vacancies in 1979.