Wailuku attorney Lloyd A. Poelman became Maui County's newest District Court judge after being confirmed by the state Senate during the special legislative session Monday.
"Oh, it feels very humbling," Poelman, 54, said Monday afternoon, after his nomination by Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald was unanimously approved by state senators.
He is a founding partner of Poelman and Langa, where he directs the bankruptcy practice for the firm, a state Senate Judiciary and Labor committee report said. With the firm for 15 years, Poelman also has handled personal and business law, personal injury, insurance defense, property law and estate planning.
Since 2005, Poelman has been a per diem District Family Court judge of the 2nd Circuit and has traveled to Molokai to preside over cases including divorce, child custody, restraining orders, child protection, guardianship and adoption. His responsibilities also have included presiding over Drug Court and juvenile detention cases.
He indicated Monday that his appointment would be as a District Family Court judge.
Poelman was appointed to fill the vacancy created by the resignation in April of Mimi DesJardins as a 2nd Circuit Family Court judge. She later pleaded no contest to a criminal complaint charging her with tampering with a government record by altering judicial determination of probable cause documents Feb. 17.
Testimony submitted to the committee was overwhelmingly favorable.
"I have found him to be well-prepared, deliberative, and to have the comportment necessary to handle the myriad of cases that come before a Family Court judge," said Anne K. Leete, who practices family law on Maui and has appeared before Poelman. "He takes his role as arbiter of intimate family disputes seriously and provides litigants with an opportunity to be heard.
"Judge Poelman has demonstrated that he is open to learning, which I believe is an essential quality for anyone whose decisions impact the lives of children. . . . We are in dire need of a judge with experience in the Family Court, and I believe that Lloyd Poelman has the experience and commitment necessary to serve Maui's families admirably."
Another testifier cited Poelman's tai chi training as an asset.
"His tai chi practice has given him a newer sense of calmness . . . creating a demeanor that allows others around him to come at ease," said John Rivera, a tai chi instructor and legal client of the new judge. "I believe in our practice that we can utilize tai chi principles throughout our daily lives, and Mr. Poelman has shown in his law practice the ability to be flexible and calm on any condition."
Poelman, who has practiced law for 27 years, earned his Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and his law degree from the Brigham Young University, J. Reuben Clark Law School in 1985.
According to an earlier news release from the state Judiciary, Poelman is active in professional, public and community service organizations. He is an arbitrator with the Court Annexed Arbitration Program and a current member and past president of the Wailuku Community Association.
Poelman, who will serve a six-year term, said he moved to Maui from Honolulu in the early 1990s "to get to a place with more open space," he said.
When asked why he elected to seek a judgeship, he said that he likes "to get things worked to resolution," to "make things make sense" and to defuse complex issues.
He said no date has been set for his swearing-in.
* Lee Imada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.