After announcing Tuesday the appointment of Wailuku attorney Peter Cahill as a 2nd Circuit Court judge, Gov. Neil Abercrombie said hours later that he could not appoint the judge because a constitutional deadline had passed two days earlier.
The Judicial Selection Commission sent a list of candidates for the position on the 2nd Circuit Court bench on May 11, and the governor had 30 days to make the appointment, according to Attorney General David Louie.
"Therefore, the governor had to make the appointment by June 10," Louie said in a news release from the Governor's Office.
Partner in Cahill &?O’Neill
Abercrombie acknowledged missing the deadline.
"The law is the law and now the appointment to the 2nd Circuit is in the hands of the Judicial Selection Commission," the governor said in the news release. "I appreciate the process by which the commission provided me the list and trust that they will act in good faith."
The commission's nominee will need confirmation by the state Senate.
Calls to the Governor's Office for further comment and explanation went unanswered Tuesday afternoon.
This is not the first time the Judicial Selection Commission has faced selecting a judge. In 2002, then-Gov. Ben Cayetano missed a deadline for an appointment to a Maui court, and the commission appointed Joel August to fill a 2nd Circuit Court vacancy created by the retirement of former Judge Artemio Baxa.
The current vacancy comes with the retirement of Judge Shackley Raffetto at the end of March.
In his earlier announcement, Abercrombie praised Cahill for his "great energy, intellectual focus and commitment to this judgeship."
A partner in Cahill & O'Neill, Cahill has successfully tried and settled injury and wrongful death cases in the state. He was previously a lawyer at Krueger & Cahill and the Law Office of James Krueger.
Maui County Bar Association President Matson Kelley called Cahill "an excellent nominee to the Circuit Court bench."
The commission's other candidates for the 2nd Circuit Court position were 2nd Circuit District Court Judge Kelsey Kawano and Wailuku attorneys Michelle Drewyer, Lloyd Poelman and Douglas Sameshima.
The Judicial Selection Commission was created by a 1978 constitutional amendment. The panel submits four to six names to the governor for each vacancy on the Hawaii Supreme Court, the Intermediate Court of Appeals and the Circuit Courts. The governor must make appointments from the list provided by the commission.
Circuit Court judges are appointed to 10-year terms.