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Senate Confirms Third Circuit Court Judge for Hawai‘i County

April 14, 2020, 8:00 AM HST
* Updated April 13, 10:23 PM
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Peter K. Kubota. File photo

Peter K. Kubota has been named Circuit Court Judge of the Third Circuit, encompassing Hawai‘i County.

The Hawai‘i State Senate announced the confirmation effective Sunday, April 12, 2020.

Kubota was appointed by Gov. David Ige on March 13, 2020, from a list of four candidates recommended by the independent Judicial Selection Commission. His appointment was then transmitted to the Senate for confirmation, which the State Constitution requires be completed in 30 days.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Karl Rhoads put Kubota’s appointment through the Committee’s standard rigorous vetting process that included a review of the judicial application, inquiry into court records and other public documents, as well as an interview with Kubota.

Other Senators also held meetings with Kubota about his pending confirmation. Throughout this review, no disqualifying information was discovered or relayed to the Senate, according to a state press release.

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Under normal circumstances, the next step in the Senate’s process would have been to hold a Judiciary Committee hearing on the nomination. However, the Senate recessed the 2020 session on March 16 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the governor has issued a stay-at-home, work-from-home order. Therefore, holding an in-person public hearing was not advisable.

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The Constitution of the State of Hawai‘i language applicable to Senate confirmation of judicial appointments made by the governor (Article VI, Section 3) reads as follows:

“If the Senate fails to reject any appointment within (30) days thereof, it shall be deemed to have given its consent to such appointment.”

As Kubota met the requisite qualifications to be confirmed as a Circuit Court judge and the Senate identified no reason to reject the appointment, he was therefore confirmed by operation of the Constitution effective April 12, 2020.

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“Peter Kubota possesses the desired qualifications for a circuit court judge,” said Senate Judiciary Chair Karl Rhoads. “Based on our review, we anticipate that he will be a fair and discerning judge.”

Judge Peter K. Kubota has served as a per diem District and Family Court Judge in the Third Circuit since 2019.

He has had a career in private practice based in Hilo for over 20 years, specializing in estate planning, real property advice and litigation, and business law. He received his law degree from the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and earned a BBA in Finance at the University of Hawai‘i Mānoa College of Business.

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