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Maui judge confirmed to 2nd Circuit Court

Senators praise diversity of Judiciary, selection of female judges in courts

Judge Kirstin Hamman (left) appears on Zoom with her son Mason Ouchi during the Senate’s special session on Friday. Hamman was one of six judges unanimously confirmed to positions in state courts. — SCREENSHOT

Judge Kirstin Hamman’s appointment as a 2nd Circuit Court judge was confirmed Friday in a unanimous state Senate vote.

Senators noted that five women were among the six judges confirmed to positions in state courts during the special session votes Friday.

“All six of the judges that were confirmed today have exhibited the judicial temperance, skill sets and experience needed to be effective jurists,” Sen. Karl Rhoads, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement Friday.

He said the “confirmation of five highly qualified female judges also moves our judiciary closer to gender parity.”

Among filled positions, 47 percent of state court judges are female and 53 percent are male, Rhoads said. “That makes Hawaii one of the most gender-balanced benches in the country,” he said.

On the Senate floor Friday, Hamman received “strong support” from Sen. Roz Baker, who represents South and West Maui.

Hamman has been a part-time District Court judge since 2014 and was confirmed in June 2018 as a full-time District Court judge, presiding over traffic, criminal, civil and environmental court calendars.

She appeared by Zoom with her son Mason Ouchi and acknowledged students in his fifth grade class at Pomaikai Elementary who were watching with their teacher Chynna Kitagawa.

Before becoming a full-time judge, Hamman had a private practice focusing on family law and special education law for five years. She worked as a legislative attorney with the Maui County Office of Council Services from 2007 to 2013. From 1998 to 2007, she represented clients in criminal proceedings as an attorney in the Office of the Public Defender on Maui.

Hamman also worked as an attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii.

She received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Hawaii, West Oahu, and a law degree from the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

She has been licensed to practice law in the state since 1997, starting her legal career as a clerk for 2nd Circuit Judge Boyd Mossman.

She was appointed to a 10-year term to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of 2nd Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo in May.

The position has an annual salary of $209,088.

The other judges whose appointments were confirmed Friday were Clarissa Malinao, Kevin Morikone and Shanlyn Park to the 1st Circuit on Oahu, Wendy DeWeese to the 3rd Circuit and Kimberly Taniyama to the 3rd Circuit District Court on Hawaii island.

After the voting, Baker, a co-convenor of the Women’s Legislative Caucus, acknowledged “all of the wonderful new women judges that we have.”

“We on this floor took our governor to task for not giving us more diverse and yet well-qualified candidates,” she said. “I think, with this group that we just confirmed today, the governor heard us and this demonstrates the diversity, the well-qualified women that exist in our state to serve not only in the Judiciary but in other aspects.

“It’s going to bring diversity, knowledge, experience and depth to our Judiciary.”

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