HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

H.C.R. NO.

5

THIRTY-FIRST LEGISLATURE, 2021

S.D. 1

STATE OF HAWAII

 

 

 

 

 

HOUSE CONCURRENT

RESOLUTION

 

 

ESTABLISHING A JOINT COMMITTEE ON JUDICIAL SELECTION.

 

 


WHEREAS, Hawaii's Judicial Selection Commission was proposed by the 1978 Constitutional Convention as a method of selecting judges based solely on their qualifications and not on political patronage; and

 

WHEREAS, this merit-based selection process was intended to assure the public that only the candidates best qualified for a vacancy would be considered for judicial appointment; and

 

WHEREAS, doubts have been raised over the years regarding the selection and retention of judges and justices and the closed and confidential operations of the Judicial Selection Commission; and

 

WHEREAS, Hawaii's judicial selection process is shrouded in unlimited secrecy due to strict laws and rules regulating disclosure; and

 

WHEREAS, deliberations of the Judicial Selection Commission are further determined to be confidential pursuant to the Constitution of the State of Hawaii; and

 

WHEREAS, to keep deliberations confidential, the rules of the Judicial Selection Commission provide, in perpetuity, blanket confidentiality for information relating to the identity of any applicant, information received from or about current or former applicants and petitioners, and any communications among or votes by commissioners that have transpired in the course of their deliberations on any subject; and

 

WHEREAS, the only time an applicant's name is publicly released is upon nomination by the Judicial Selection Commission for a vacant judicial position as provided by the Constitution of the State of Hawaii; and

 

WHEREAS, the continued opacity of Hawaii's judicial selection process may further erode public confidence in the judicial selection process and, by extension, the Judiciary; and

 

WHEREAS, Hawaii's merit-based judicial selection process can only be preserved through public confidence and public confidence requires full disclosure of the process and the need for confidentiality as an inherent part of merit-based judicial selection; and

 

WHEREAS, to preserve Hawaii's merit-based selection process, it is critical that the public has a clear understanding of the thorough process utilized by the Judicial Selection Commission in selecting and retaining judges and justices; and

 

WHEREAS, the rules of the Judicial Selection Commission do not identify any clear or measurable evaluation standards for applicants or petitioners for judicial office, including standards that address the specific skills that are required for trial or appellate courts and the knowledge required for courts with specialized jurisdiction; and

 

WHEREAS, establishing clear, defined standards for evaluating applicants and petitioners for judicial office will promote public confidence that the best qualified applicants are being selected and quality petitioners are retained in a consistent manner and assure applicants and petitioners that they will be held to predictable and transparent standards; and

 

WHEREAS, the efficiency and operations of the Judicial Selection Commission could also be improved with an orientation program for new members of the Commission and annual training for all members of the Commission; and

 

WHEREAS, the Judicial Selection Commission's voting process can be streamlined by amending the voting system, voting for multiple lists at the same time, or authorizing remote participation; now, therefore,

 

BE IT RESOLVED by the House of Representatives of the Thirty-first Legislature of the State of Hawaii, Regular Session of 2021, the Senate concurring, that the Joint Committee on Judicial Selection is requested to be established to work with the Judicial Selection Commission and Judiciary to:

 

(1) Develop clear, written standards for evaluating applicants and petitioners for judicial office;

 

(2) Develop protocols for training new and existing members of the Judicial Selection Commission;

 

(3) Streamline the Judicial Selection Commission's voting rules;

 

(4) Define the term "deliberations" under article VI, section 4, of the Hawaii State Constitution; and

 

(5) Create greater transparency as to the rules and procedures applicable to the Judicial Selection Commission; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Joint Committee on Judicial Selection is requested to consist of the following members:

 

(1) One member appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives;

 

(2) One member appointed by the Senate President;

 

(3) One member appointed by the Governor;

 

(4) One member appointed by the Chief Justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court;

 

(5) One member appointed by the Hawaii State Bar Association; and

 

(6) One member appointed by Hawaii Women Lawyers; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Joint Committee on Judicial Selection is requested to work with the Judicial Selection Commission to improve recruitment in terms of quantity of applicants, in addition to qualifications of applicants; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Legislative Reference Bureau is requested to assist the Joint Committee on Judicial Selection; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Joint Committee on Judicial Selection, with the assistance of the Legislative Reference Bureau, is requested to submit a report of its findings and recommendations, including any proposed legislation, to the Legislature no later than forty days prior to the convening of the Regular Session of 2022; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a certified copy of this Concurrent Resolution be transmitted to the Governor, Speaker of the House of Representatives, President of the Senate, Chief Justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court, Chairperson of the Judicial Selection Commission, Executive Director of the Hawaii State Bar Association, and Director of the Legislative Reference Bureau.

Report Title:

Joint Committee on Judicial Selection; Written Standards; Training; Voting Rules; Transparency