WAILUKU Maui's newest 2nd Circuit Court judge was described by a handful of speakers as fair, honest, jovial, pragmatic and a man of integrity.
Wailuku attorney Peter T. Cahill, who was sworn in at a ceremony Monday afternoon, said he was "overwhelmed" by the kind words and praise he received.
Known for his sense of humor, Cahill joked after the ceremony that the speeches were like a eulogy, only he's alive to hear the kind words.
Newly sworn-in 2nd Circuit Judge Peter Cahill is covered with lei after a ceremony Monday afternoon in 2nd Circuit Court. Cahill’s 10-year term begins today.
The Maui News / MELISSA TANJI photo
The 55-year-old said he was most looking forward to "just getting to work as soon as possible."
He'll get his wish as he begins his 10-year term today.
Cahill replaces Judge Shackley F. Raffetto, who retired from the bench April 30.
During the ceremony in 2nd Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza's courtroom, speakers joked about Cahill's bumpy road to the bench. Gov. Neil Abercrombie nominated Cahill two days after his 30-day constitutional deadline to make the appointment had passed.
The governor made the announcement of Cahill's appointment only to announce later in the day that he couldn't legally make the appointment.
The task fell to the Judicial Selection Commission, which days later made the appointment of Cahill. He was confirmed by the state Senate in June.
Cahill earned his bachelor of arts degree from Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J., and his law degree from the University of Notre Dame Law School.
Cahill leaves his practice at the firm of Cahill & O'Neill, where he concentrated on injury and wrongful death cases. Prior to his employment at Cahill & O'Neill, he worked as a lawyer at Krueger & Cahill and the Law Office of James Krueger.
At the ceremony, Cahill thanked many people, including Krueger, whom he said was the only one who would hire the New Jersey native in Hawaii.
On the first day on the job, Cahill recalled not being able to find the correct case Krueger had asked him to research. He remembered overhearing a paralegal in Krueger's office saying: "I give him six months."
Those six months turned to seven-and-a-half years with Krueger.
"Without him (Krueger) giving me an opportunity, I wouldn't be here today," Cahill said.
Krueger had praise for Cahill as well. After the ceremony, Krueger said of Cahill: "This is one of the blessings for the Maui judiciary since World War II."
He said Cahill has "the heart and brains to do the right thing in a pragmatic way. . . . If I were a judge I'd like to be like him."
During the ceremony, Honolulu attorney James Bickerton of the Hawaii Judicial Selection Commission noted Cahill's community service as board member of Maui Youth and Family Services and his assistance to Aloha House and the Malama Family Recovery Center.
Bickerton added that Cahill's opposition even had praise for him and their actions speak for themselves.
Though Cahill is a personal injury attorney, an insurance company hired him to do work for it. Personal injury attorneys and insurance companies are usually adversaries in court.
Bickerton said Cahill is a hard worker and often "works through lunch."
"He has a heart and a brain. He has a third thing, he is a pragmatist. . . . Maui has hit a judicial trifecta," Bickerton said.
Cahill was sworn in by Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald, who said Cahill "brings a wealth of experience to his position."
With lei stacked up to his face after the ceremony, Cahill said he never dreamed about being a judge.
"It was just an opportunity that arose," he said, noting he was encouraged by friends and colleagues to apply for the judgeship.
Cahill's wife, Jessica, was with him at the ceremony and his daughter, Jennifer, viewed the ceremony via Skype from college. Jennifer Cahill, a senior, attends Boise State University on a swimming scholarship.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at email@example.com.